How RimWorld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles

Reed’s having a bad day: her spaceship crashed, she’s one of three survivors, and the other two won’t stop hitting on her. Unfortunately for her, she’s beautiful, which means that they’re immediately enamoured with her; unfortunately for them, she’s gay, which means the feeling is definitely not mutual. Her life is a constant hellish stream of corny pick-up lines and work for the colony.

RimWorld is a scifi colony management sim that seems to effortlessly weave dynamic stories around the player’s attempts to survive on an often harsh alien world, but when it comes to sexuality, romance and gender, it tells variations on this one story far too often. We dug into the code to find out why that is.

Returning to Reed, we can see that the pick-up lines don’t get her down. She receives no penalty to her mood for being barraged by come-ons. But the two men, Rob and Boots, feel differently. They have a near-permanent mood and relationship penalty for Reed, because they keep asking her out, and keep getting rebuffed. But it’s not really their fault – Rob and Boots can’t stop hitting on her because they’re men, and because she’s just so gosh-darned pretty. More precisely, that’s how they’ve been programmed.

The eerie thing is, remove the bit about the crashed spaceship and this scenario mirrors a common narrative about romance, sexuality, and relationships between men and women. It is not at all uncommon to hear stories, in media and in real life, of how men ‘just can’t help themselves’ around beautiful women, and to hear how devastating it is for men to be rejected by the women to whom they are attracted. Setting aside the truth of those stories, and how demeaning they are to men and women both, why is this the story that RimWorld tells about relationships? In order to get to the heart of the situation, I unpacked the latest publicly-available build of RimWorld to see how romantic interactions are determined. For the sake of non-coders among us, longer sections are presented in pseudocode that tells you what it does, without requiring you to be fluent in C#.

To be clear, the anecdote I’ve described above is not a unique scenario in RimWorld. The current top-rated post of all time on the RimWorld subreddit is a user asking for “strategies to deal with attractive lesbians”. Additionally, an earlier decompilation of the game, summarizing how RimWorld models romantic behaviour, was a pretty good indicator that the answer to Reed’s dilemma lay somewhere in the game’s source code.

So why were Reed’s fellow survivors constantly hitting on her? The answer lies, partially, in how romance attempts are calculated differently for male and female “pawns”, the game’s term for all the colonists you control. All pawns start out with a base chance of turning any social interaction into a romance attempt, and a minimum threshold of attractiveness and positive opinion for this to happen. In other words, you have to actually like someone and find them attractive in order to try to start a romantic relationship with them. Things become interesting when the random chance of initiation comes in.

// Change chance of initiation based on gender of initiator  

       if(me.gender == male) {
            // no change
            initiation-chance = initiation-chance * 100%; 
        }


       if(me.gender == female) {
            // initiation chance is 12.5% of what it would be
            Initiation-chance = initiation-chance * 12.5%
        }

In other words, female pawns are about eight times less likely to try and start a romantic relationship. Granted, this is not the only factor – other elements include presence or absence of an existing romantic partner, and how they feel about said partner. However, this single check on gender has such a profound effect that it makes female-initiated romance attempts incredibly rare. Notice that neither a history of rebuffals nor the presence of the “gay” trait in the recipient are factored in, which would explain why they won’t stop. This behaviour is one-way, though. Reed doesn’t hit on them, not because she’s female, but because she finds them unattractive.

So how is attractiveness actually calculated? For both male and female pawns, attractiveness rests on a few variables: the genders of the initiator and the recipient, the sexual orientation of the initiator, the beauty of the recipient, age, and physical ability.

Before going into gender-specific differences, let’s first look at some universal variables..

// In the rest of the function, multiply attractiveness with the factors for:
// Talking, moving, and manipulation efficiency (penalty for pawns with disabilities)
// Bonus or penalty for attractiveness traits (ugly = 30% as likely, beautiful = 230% as likely)
// Additional age factor for people between 15 and 18else if(me.gender == female) {
// Enforce sexual orientation for gay women

        if(me.orientation == gay and them.gender == male) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0;
        }
        // And for non-gay women
        if(me.orientation == straight and them.gender == female) {
            // Only 15% as strong as it would otherwise be
            attractiveness = attractiveness * 15%;
        }

There are no straight women in RimWorld, as in, there are no women only attracted to men. Instead, every single non-gay woman in the game has some chance of being attracted to another woman. As for the men, it works a little differently.

// Calculate the perceived attractiveness (between 0.0 and 1.0) of them, to me

    float calculate_attractiveness(Pawn me, Pawn them) {
    float attractiveness = 0.0;


    if(me.gender == male) {


        // Enforce sexual orientation for male pawns
        if(me.orientation == gay and them.gender == female) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0; 
        }
        if(me.orientation == straight and them.gender == male) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0;
        }

Notice that there’s only two possible orientations for men, gay or straight. In RimWorld, there are no bisexual men, only gay or straight men; there are no straight women, only gay or bisexual women.

Lastly, we move on to the most complicated part of this, age-based attraction. These are hard to visualize just by reading the code, so here they are in diagram form.

In RimWorld, male pawns will always find pawns between 20 and their own age attractive. If the male pawn in question is under 20, that doesn’t make a difference – because it’ll check the “lower” bound first, they’re guaranteed to find a 20-year-old attractive. This explains why Rob (age 32) and Boots (age 17) keep trying to ask out Reed (age 23). But, since the same code doesn’t check for relative age, 17-year-old Boots wouldn’t actually find a fellow 17-year-old teenager all that attractive. There’s also a minimum age for attraction, 16 years old, and a maximum age, any pawn 15 years older than themselves. So in this case, Boots wouldn’t find any woman over the age of 32, or any woman under age 16, attractive.

On the other hand, women overwhelmingly prefer partners older than them. And, unlike for men, there’s no firm cutoff for pawns that are “too old”: even pawns 40 years older than the woman in question have a chance of being perceived as attractive. Contrast this to the calculation for men, where pawns 15 years older than them have absolutely no chance.

In summary:

  • Men are about eight times as likely as women to try and start a romance.
  • Pawns with disabilities will always be found less attractive.
  • Beautiful pawns are always considered vastly more attractive; ugly pawns, vastly less. Physical beauty is the only trait that governs attractiveness, aside from sexual orientation.
  • Straight men always find men unattractive. Gay men always find women unattractive. There are no bisexual men.
  • Women may find women attractive. Gay women always find men unattractive. There are only bisexual or gay women.
  • All men consider partners aged 20 to their own age most attractive. If they’re under 20, they’ll find pawns 20 or over most attractive, with no regard for pawns that are a similar age to them.
  • All women consider partners the same age and older most attractive. Partners slightly younger than themselves are very unattractive, and partners that are 10 years younger than them are always considered unattractive.
  • All men consider any pawn 15 years older than themselves to be unattractive.
  • There is no “old age” cutoff for women. No matter how much older a partner is, women have some chance of finding them attractive.

Now, RimWorld is not finished. It’s a game that’s still under constant development, and so this relationship system might well continue to develop and change. On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work. In other words, there might not be any specific commentary on or interpretation of gender roles behind this, malicious or otherwise. Any game system that tries to represent or model complicated real-world scenarios necessarily has to make abstractions and sacrifices, and human relationships might be one of the most complicated things you could possibly portray.

But we are not analyzing RimWorld on the basis of what it might be in the future. The question we’re asking is, “what are the stories that RimWorld is already telling?” Yes, making a game is a lot of work, and maybe these numbers were just thrown in without too much thought as to how they’d influence the game. But what kind of system is being designed, that in order to ‘just make it work’, you wind up with a system where there will never be bisexual men? Or where all women, across the board, are eight times less likely to initiate romance?

On top of that, what RimWorld doesn’t model is as important as what it does. Remember how constantly being hit on and rebuffing people doesn’t lead to a mood penalty, only a reduced opinion of the person pursuing? In daily life, the feeling of having to constantly turn people down is not a nice feeling. But these negative feelings are only reflected mechanically for those being rejected, and because of the way romance initiation is handled, you end up having to cater for the sad rejected men, rather than the women who are always having to turn away these unwanted encounters.

We could label that behaviour a bug, perhaps. But those are just the surface symptoms. Those are the easily-noticed, in-game consequences of a system whose base structure has literally encoded assumptions about how men and women operate. Now, representation is a tricky subject, and we will probably never create a perfect model of romantic behaviour.

But the problem with this model isn’t that it’s flawed. It’s that it’s flawed in a way that perfectly mirrors existing sexist expectations of romance, with such specificity that it is hard to view it as unintentional . And if it is unintentional it is on us to ask what this system is trying to show. What are the possibilities that it allows? What is RimWorld setting as the boundaries of possibility?

Decompiling the source code provides a very clear look at how these gender differences were written into the game. However, it’s not something that’s intuitive to grasp just by playing the game. At the same time, this is a system that has an enormous impact on how you play, because one of the key challenges in RimWorld is keeping your colonists happy. Code is never neutral. All of these coded structures push a particular scenario over others, and most of the time this is fairly benign. However, this does not mean that it should escape scrutiny, because we can end up uncritically coding in harmful assumptions, which ultimately means we are constraining what our games could be while also alienating other players.

As for Reed, things have gotten a little better. Other women have joined the colony, and one of them, nineteen-year-old Roughchild, has gotten engaged to Rob. Reed’s on better terms with Rob, now that he’s spending time with his fiancee instead of constantly trying to get with her. Everyone still adores her, of course, because she’s beautiful; everyone still talks to her, and Boots is still making passes at her. But the feeling is never mutual.

Editor’s note: The developer was contacted for interview as part of this article, but declined to take part unless we ceded editorial control over the publishing of that interview. We do not cede editorial control to developers or interview subjects and so no interview took place. The developer has left a response below in the comments and here on Reddit. We stand by the accuracy of the article entirely.

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Graham Smith says:

    The developer was contacted for comment but refused to participate in an interview unless we ceded editorial control. I wasn't willing to do that.

    FWIW, I personally think RimWorld is great, we've written many positive articles about it, and I don't think this cancels out the game's positive qualities. But I also don't think that being in early access or unfinished means that you can't analyse and criticise the explicit and implicit statements a game is making through its design. As long as it's publicly available - and especially it's for sale - I think it's fair to critique.
  2. TynanSylvester says:

    I'm the developer of RimWorld.

    The author of this anger-farming hit piece did email me asking if she could ask me some questions. However, she wanted to edit my responses. When I said I'd be willing to answer questions, but not if the responses were edited, she went silent. I guess she wasn't willing to print the other side of the story if she didn't have the power to edit it.

    There's also some blatant lying in this article, where the author pretends not to know things that I specifically told her.

    For example, Claudia wrote: "It’s a game that’s still under constant development, and so this relationship system might well continue to develop and change. On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work."

    However, in my email response I said, "You should be aware that there are some bugs in the relationship system in Alpha 15 that are already reported and fixed for Alpha 16. So you're analyzing a broken system :/ Also, this system is just something slammed together to get the game working in a basic way. It's just barely functional enough to fill its role. It's never been intended as any kind of accurate or even reasonable simulation of the real thing."

    So she knows for a fact that the system as it works has known bugs, already fixed. She knows for a fact that it's very rough. Yet she insists on presenting this as some sort of "might well be" theory as though she has no more information.

    ---

    Now onto the 'journalism'. The way this is written is disgusting. There's no attempt to get an explanation or understanding of why the code works as it does. The decision was specifically made to not ask me any question, or understand why these decisions were made, or comprehend the research or meaning behind them. It's purely written in the style of a witch hunt - point at the heretic, maliciously misinterpret everything in the most moralistic, angry way possible, and harvest the resulting anger for clicks.

    I saw it coming a mile away, which is why I wanted my words to be printed unedited.

    Is this journalism? No, because it doesn't make the minimal effort to get or present the truth fairly.

    Is it opinion? No, it's not an editorial.

    It's anger-farming, combined with a moralistic witch hunt. It's the worst kind of click-bait - they type that generates anger on purpose, where none needed to exist, in a community that was perfectly at peace beforehand.

    Notice how it specifically skirts as close to calling me a "malicious" person as possible without actually making the claim.

    ---

    The truth of this system is that it is very rough, and that it's based on research and discussions with various people. I'd be willing to talk about these things, in the context of an honest discussion of hows and whys. This is not that, so I'm not going to try to justify every part of this here.

    I will, however, quote a discussion I had with another user who contacted me about this, so we can all see an example of what an honest discussion looks like. Here it is:

    *** FROM USER

    So I'm sure you've seen it discussed extensively that gay colonists need some tweaks, from a game balance perspective. The community generally agrees that advances between colonists of incompatible sexualities should be decreased, so they would stop getting "rebuffed" mood penalties needlessly.
    This isn't particularly urgent in my opinion, since there are (as usual in Rimworld) some creative and questionably moral ways to get around this. I've expressed my opinions, and you can react however you please; it's your game. But if you're already planning on changing the code for romancing/sexuality, I have a few things to request:
    First off, I'm bi, and no colonists are bisexual in Rimworld. It would nice to get some representation, blah blah blah... In truth this isn't a big deal to me personally, I just thought I might bring it to your attention that we exist.
    Now, one thing that really does bother me, both from a game-balance and "political" point of view, is a conclusion drawn from this thread: "set a value that multiplies attractiveness by 0.15 at the end, then keep going. That's right - women are always a little bit bi." If neither gender had this multiplier, I would write it off as you not wanting to overcomplicate game mechanics (not that you need to or seem to feel the need to). If both did, I don't think anyone would have a problem. It could even be a minor workaround fix for the current complaints, allowing gay colonists to have a small chance to succeed in their advances on straight ones.
    But at the risk of calling your opinions invalid (not my intent) I have to insist that being "bi-curious" is not asymmetrical between genders, as you seem to imply in this code. I'm not going to tell you how to make your game, and I certainly have no intentions of telling you how to think, but I just wanted to express my opinion as an admiring member of your game's community. Overall you've created something great that a lot of people enjoy.
    ***
    Hi there, thanks for the mail.
    I think bi-curiosity is quite asymmetrical between sexes. I've developed this view from research, and it also aligns with what I've observed personally.
    Research: http://www.advocate.com/bisexuality/2015/08/26/study-women-are-more-likely-be-bisexual-men
    The above study indicates that a larger proportion of women who identify as straight are bi-curious or have engaged in bisexual behavior.
    Research: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf
    The above paper indicates (on page 6 specifically) that of people who identify as gay/lesbian/bi, the proportion of bi among women is about double the proportion of bi men.
    And personal observations: I've known some bi women and a large proportion of the nominally straight women I've known have discussed bi impulses or experiences they've had. In contrast, every bi man I've ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay. These patterns seem to apply even in very gay-friendly social contexts.
    Of course I'm sure bi/bi-curious men exist, but the research and what I've seen supports the conclusion that they're rarer than bi women. Conversely, gay women seem to be rarer than gay men.
    Nor am I an expert in all this; the game simply attempts a very rough approximation of some patterns from real life. In truth I never did a full analysis of every possible situation this code could run into. I'm sure various numbers are wrong. But, it's functional and gets the job done.
    In truth I hate these discussions because there's really no way to reach agreement. So I don't ask you to agree with me necessarily, only to understand why I would make these choices given the research and observations I've found.
    Best
    Ty
    ***
    Wow, thanks for this great reply! I think you should post an explanation like this somewhere public. (Maybe you did, and I missed it) I'm sure people like me would appreciate that you put a lot of thought into this, rather than just basing it on stereotype. That was my biggest concern, honestly. This is great!
    But the other burning question - just because I'm curious: Are you planning on tweaking the code? The "dealing with attractive lesbians" thread is actually the highest scoring one of all time in /r/rimworld, heh. No judgement either way, I'm just wondering your thoughts on the functionality of it. Thanks again!
    ***
    Sadly these discussions, had in public, have a tendency to attract people that enjoy conflict. So I choose to just try to do something reasonable (that I can explain if ultimately necessary), but not to put out justifications for it because they'd be bait for any Internet flame-wars. Because you know no matter what I say some people will hate it - and some of those might hate it a lot, and I just have better things to do than deal with that. It's a sad thing about the Net.
    As for the lesbians, I added a "gaydar" factor so colonists will be less likely to attempt romance with others of non-matching orientation. That was easy - just something I didn't think to add before. Of course awkward interactions will still happen, just not so constantly and repeatedly, because that made little sense and screwed up the balance.
    Best Ty
  1. pnic101 says:

    This is fascinating and a real shame. If the developers don’t fix this, the code at least seems simple enough that some modders should be able to.

    • Thurgret says:

      Developer. It’s one guy. Have you asked him to change it?

      • pnic101 says:

        Erm no, I don’t know him….

        • Chaotic Entropy says:

          He’s fairly active on Reddit and seems like a generally decent human being.

          • Sp4rkR4t says:

            He seems to be a gimmegouter.

          • pepperfez says:

            Look, do you really want to live in a world where people are criticized for nothing more than their public support of a hate group?

      • Premium User Badge

        modzero says:

        Two guys, and I’d point out the obvious political leanings of the dev, but he just called this article a hit piece a few comments down, so I don’t have to.

        FWIW, this is a great article, and one that was sorely missing. Rimworld is in many ways a great game, but it’s also a thing with political leanings of its own, and in some places those bothered me enough to eventually give up on it. Gender roles are not the only thing, really (oh my god the prison mechanics :[).

        …anyhow, this is going to be a fun comments thread.

        • Fnord73 says:

          Im up early working on the local knitting festival, so I dont have the time to read all the 216 comments that are in already. But this seems like a fair critiscism without any hysteria. Did the dev go all Captain Butthurt on the subject?

          If so, oooh, poor him :-)

        • dc85 says:

          I’m ashamed of RPS for allowing this kind of thing on their website. I used to really think of RPS as one of the better gaming news sites, but if they’re allowing Ms. Lo to write something like this without even bothering to fact-check it or confirm any of it… man, I honestly thought y’all were better than that!

          I especially liked how Ms. Lo added her own comments to the code and then presented them as though they are part of the code itself. Jesus christ, this article disgusts me. RPS should remove it and re-examine their decision to allow Ms. Lo to write articles for them.

    • Swanny says:

      I think RPS is an important force against sexism, but this piece goes too far for me. I’m an engineering student with a minor in intercultural communication and gender studies, and I am fully aware with the bullshit that happens to women in the tech field, and have even referenced RPS discussions in academic writing (anyone remember Team Dickwolf?). I work in tech, and have to deal with it every day.

      That said- I’m getting some serious cognitive dissonance off this article. Why are we willing to look at source code, but the author can’t be bothered to look at /r/rimworld or the Ludeon forums? All of the issues in this article are known and discussed with Tynan on these communities! Tynan has spoken for a long time about overhauling the attraction system. Many of the game’s systems are placeholders, and attraction is one of them. Tynan says on /r/rimworld that women are also effictively 100% straight. The code is written to allow pawns to be gay without adding an extra sexual preference variable to each colonist.

      I know attacking the author is the oldest cliche, but I cannot believe we’re looking at source code without looking at reddit or browsing the forums to get a feel for what Tynan is thinking. As a rimworld player and (somewhat)informed gender studies/tech person, I think this piece goes too far. It’s going to get a ton of views, and a huge discussion/argument, but at the cost of some serious journalistic integrity, imo. I’ve always thought RPS was fairly objective when dealing with women in tech. Now, I’m not so sure.

      • pepperfez says:

        Are you honestly saying that pointing out the contents of the source code is somehow an affront to journalistic objectivity? This is like the platonic ideal of the game review: “Here are some lines of code and what they do. I do not like what these lines of code do, and here is why.”

        • Swanny says:

          The lack of journalistic integrity is due to what wasn’t in the article:

          1) The ‘code’ in the article is not the actual game source code (click the decomp link- it’s a reference to a reddit post with NO CODE that references other sources with no code- it’s just made up!).

          2) No effort was made to let the RPS audience know that this is not the actual source code of the game.

          3) Tynan speaks often of these issues on various communities. No references to this in the article about any of that.

          • pepperfez says:

            For the sake of non-coders among us, longer sections are presented in pseudocode that tells you what it does, without requiring you to be fluent in C#.

            If the code is actually not representative of the game then say so, but right now you’re just raising ad hoc procedural objections because you don’t like the article’s conclusions.

          • Swanny says:

            Strawman? Really? I have no issue with how the code parallels the game, you’re making that argument for me. My issue is that I do not believe the author acted with journalistic integrity, and left out several important poins that did not support her views. Surely you can see, even in your short quote, it’s strongly implied that she’s translating rimworld code from C# for the benefit of the reader, which is untrue, there is no C# decompile of Rimworld linked in the article or anywhere else that I’ve seen.

            The entire foundation of the article is a redditor’s analysis of the system! However, let’s leave out the part where Tynan talks about how it’s bugged (heaven forbid we should have to talk about code!) and fixing it on reddit.

      • syndrome says:

        If the whole thing is just a placeholder, why aren’t the gender specifics non-existent? That being said, why isn’t the damn thing symmetrical? You know.. Easier to make, like a placeholder is supposed to be?

        If I was to make an attraction system for 15 minutes, I’d do something along the lines of get_age_difference(personA, personB) multiplied by same_gender_factor(is_person_A_gay) multiplied by social_factors_involved(personB), to obtain a quick chance to even consider romancing, and then I would decide whether to allow it or not, on the fly, according to some completely random number.

        No gender specifics, no nothing.
        Now, that’s a placeholder!

        I agree, however, that the article is political. But I think that this is someone who dislikes whatever Tynan is doing, or we might speculate this to be a quasi-educated ad hominem attack on the personality he’s selling.

        Personally I’m not fond of Rimworld, but I’ll remain neutral on this subject.

        • Swanny says:

          Tynan himself addresses that here:
          link to reddit.com

          TL,DR: Tynan codes as lean as possible, and seems to prefer probabilities over states, resulting in the system that’s in place now.

    • Calculon says:

      Wow. I have to say Im very disappointed in how absolutely moronic most of the people on this thread are. Its a sad sad day for humanity. The only thing I can conclude is that the vast majority of you have entirely too much time on your hands and not enough responsibility in your life to politicize a GAME.

      IT’s a GAME people! A GAME! Games have rules that may appear to you to be arbitrary at some point. It is NOT a commentary on society, it is NOT a commentary on gender roles. Rules are intended to create Entertainment.

      It’s a GAME. Dont like it? Dont play it. And no that doesnt give you the right to condemn the developer, or criticize how its been developed – but because I can bet that if I took a peak into each of your lives there would be A LOT to criticize and politicize (starting with this nonsense first). Have a look at your own lives first before you waste energy politicizing a freaking game.

      • ThePimpOfSound says:

        Wow. I have to say Im very disappointed in how absolutely moronic most of the people on this thread are. Its a sad sad day for humanity. The only thing I can conclude is that the vast majority of you have entirely too much time on your hands and not enough responsibility in your life to politicize a BOOK.

        IT’s a BOOK people! A BOOK! Books have words that may appear to you to be arbitrary at some point. It is NOT a commentary on society, it is NOT a commentary on gender roles. Words are intended to create Entertainment.

        It’s a BOOK. Dont like it? Dont read it. And no that doesnt give you the right to condemn the author, or criticize how its been written – but because I can bet that if I took a peak into each of your lives there would be A LOT to criticize and politicize (starting with this nonsense first). Have a look at your own lives first before you waste energy politicizing a freaking book.

      • pepperfez says:

        Have a look at your own lives first before you waste energy politicizing a freaking game.

        • Marr says:

          Maybe the developer shouldn’t have politicized his freaking game in the first place.

  2. Vigil says:

    Excellent article, had been wondering why the women basically never initiate a romance. A shame that in our far sci-fi-western future we seem to have regressed to 20th century gender roles.

    • pepperfez says:

      The taboo against male bisexuality is apparently stronger than the taboo against cannibalism.

  3. seroto9 says:

    Great work: and deeply saddening. On the upside, it helps me prune my wishlist by one.

    • Grendael says:

      I would imagine there wont be much left on the wishlist.

    • Walsh says:

      Are you serious? The game is great and it’s still in early access. This is something that will probably be refined as it goes along.

      Relationships are barely noticeable in game, I’m usually struggling to get enough people to work, I’m not paying attention to whether or not they are getting along.

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      subdog says:

      I’m doing the same. This is too gross to bother with.

      • Thurgret says:

        Same question as above: did you happen to contact the developer to express your grievances?

        • Premium User Badge

          subdog says:

          Yes, just as I personally contact the makers of all products I choose not to purchase.

          • colw00t says:

            Some may say that my policy of writing a stern letter to every kebab shop I decline to patronize is insane, but I think it is the only way to be transparent. I only spend a few dozen hours per week doing so.

          • pepperfez says:

            Oh, so the kebab shops get a letter, but you just silently discriminate against all those innocent pizzerias and delis you choose to deprive of income? Absolutely disgusting.

        • Kolbex says:

          Why should they? The dev needs customers way more than they need games. It’s a seller’s market, and the thing on sale is attention, not the game.

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          modzero says:

          If the forum thread on the autistic trait (no empathy!!!11!cos(0)!) was ignored, why would I waste my time?

          • Premium User Badge

            Jekadu says:

            Mind expanding on that a bit? Haven’t played the game.

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            modzero says:

            This thread on the forums explains it: link to ludeon.com (I’m ModZero in it). I got rather discouraged by how it was ignored, and the trait went by without change into later versions.

          • syndrome says:

            @ModZero This Asperger’s syndrome example highlights why we don’t need juvenile authors of complex games, devoid of any core values. Although this is “only a game”, there is a certain responsibility if we are to simulate complex human behaviour. Especially if one writes a book about what making games, and then goes and employs a heavily biased or asymmetrical gender-role definition.

            Making a game about people, and then ignoring what makes people people, is like making a home with too many windows too high, too many doors too small, and irritating everyone with the book on how to decorate interiors, and then you say: “well, that was just a placeholder, it gets the job done”.

            No damn it! No, it doesn’t get the job done. You had one fucking job, and that’s not just to make the game work! For any game to work, that’s for fucking granted, but how exactly it works from the user’s perspective, and what it conveys is important!! Now that you have so many buyers, you have a responsibility to make it politically-correct and top-notch. That’s how it works. PEOPLE LEARN FROM YOUR GAMES. PEOPLE WANT OTHER PEOPLE (especially children) TO LEARN ABOUT _THEM_ FROM YOUR GAMES.

            IF NOTHING ELSE, PEOPLE EXPLICITLY DON’T WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO LEARN ABOUT THEM FROM AN IGNORANT, CYNICAL, OR UNTRUTHFUL SOURCE.

            Notch didn’t get this either.

      • plasmachris says:

        Also note that the original article presented this as a “code comment” which made it look like it came directly from my code. Decompiled code does not include comments. The blogger wrote that comment (and all the others) herself. She also restructured the code and added names of variables and such (decompiled code doesn’t include local variable names). It’s better regarded as her pseudocode interpretation of my code, not anything I actually wrote. (this text edited to clarify).

        Straight from the developer. This “journalist” completely fabricated the games “code”. This article is completely false, and should be treated with utter reprehension. Seriously, do you people even check more then one website before you go an a witchhunt?

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      On the flip side, while my wishlist gets a little shorter, my RPS block list gets to grow another few inches today!

      • Premium User Badge

        modzero says:

        I wish I could save money by eating my blocklist, the way Rimworld characters end up eating their enemies body parts.

    • Marr says:

      Same. Based primarily on the developer’s MRA victimhood response.

  4. Halk says:

    Great article.

    I’m having trouble imagining the motivation behind this:

    “In RimWorld, there are no bisexual men, only gay or straight men; there are no straight women, only gay or bisexual women.”

    • Walsh says:

      The game is in early access, it’s obviously not fleshed out.

      • colw00t says:

        I’m not sure that I buy this excuse, because the code very clearly reflects a series of decisions and assumptions.

        If the relationship code was simply a “roll 1d100, if >51 pawn is attracted” then I would buy the excuse that it was just placeholder.

      • DoubleG says:

        This isn’t a case of the game not being in the oven long enough. The developer did EXTRA work adding the code to make men and women behave differently.

        I like the game and I like the developer — I even bought his book. But when he coded these differences he probably didn’t realize he was dealing in stereotypes. That’s how insidious stereotypes work. Shining a light on this is how it gets fixed.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Shining a light would help, which is what this article does, but it is clear from the reply above that instead of listening, the dev chooses to both defend his position based on cherry-picked comments and say it’s not complete, yet he deliberately chose to make it more complex based on stereotypes. Now I would respect it if he’d either said he based it on that, because it would be recognisable (that’s what stereotypes do, they reinforce the behaviour, which reinforces the stereotypes, which reinforces the behaviour,…) and will change or if he’d admitted his mistake. But right now it looks like he’s both slandering the author (while I think the article is quite neutral to the dev), supporting (and hence reinforcing) harmful stereotypes and trying to MRA the entire thread.
        While I have a hilarious anecdote based on this unrequited love in my first game, finding out it’s because code like this, takes away the magic… a lot! (I also expected it was coded like this, because it wasn’t as rare, in fact it was a constant in all my colonies – and got annoying).

    • stuw23 says:

      As am I. The decision to make it so there’s no bisexual men, and no straight women, is one I simply can’t get my head around other than to hope it’s to do with the game still being Early Access. But even then, it seems such a strange decision to make.

      • DoubleG says:

        I don’t know if those of you expressing confusion grew up as a straight male, but this is unfortunately a VERY commonly believed stereotype in that group — all men are either gay or straight, and all women are bisexual.

        • Michael Fogg says:

          I think the stereotypy has to do with pornogrsphy,to which kids are exposed to at a very young age these days. A very common trope involves a threesome where two women engage also in homosexual acts. on the contrary in a threesome with two men they NEVER do (except subtextually).

    • Revil says:

      Probably distraction…Here is how I imagine it went down in a very simplified form:

      Ok, so we have two genders and they need to have relationships, lets figure out how to make that work.

      *Finish making the Male gender code, copies it to Female classes and reviews to make sure nothing was missed*

      But, if we make it to where they are attracted in this way instead, it will allow for more variety! *makes changes to Female code, performs tests* That is great! Now, we need to do the same to the guys…whats that? Oh, the insect infestation is broken? Uh oh, better fix that before we hit Alpha launch day…

      And it never gets done before its time to push it out. I’m sure it will be revamped, and this article pointing it out is, most likley, super helpful to Ty in getting the fix done (he might have even missed it, though I’m betting the resource constraint is time, not attention).

      Just don’t judge the game based on what was likely an oversight, not a political message…

      • DoubleG says:

        Not an oversight. Read the developer’s response below — this was deliberately coded in this way because this is how the developer believes gender dynamics work, based on his life experience and research that he has read.

      • shde2e says:

        In that case, i’d accuse the developer of being bad at his job. If you half-implement features while still pushing them to the release version, you’re doing something wrong.

        Also, this should be relatively easy to fix, since you just need to copy the steps from the female part. If this was a high enough priority to change in the first place, it seems like finishing it should have some priority as well.

        • meeper says:

          Completely ignoring the topic at hand here, but to accuse a developer of doing a ‘bad job’ because one might push out a half-finished feature (again, I’m not commenting on the article at hand) is simultaneously ignorant and arrogant.

          Features are often intentionally relased in an early access or development system in a state that might be considered ‘half-implemented’ for an iterative development process or when other systems that use these features aren’t fully implemented. Take for instance an example of a developer pushing out ‘half-implemented’ food feature in order to interact with a fully-implemented eating mechanic, or a ‘half-implemented’ building UI so users can construct structures despite many (or most) of the individual structure elements not being present.

          Waiting to fully develop a feature is a luxury reserved for products that release in a 1.0 state on day one. To accuse essentially all developers that follow a pre-1.0 release system of being ‘bad’ at their jobs is nothing more than some sort of ignorant rant.

    • Rizlar says:

      Sounds really bad. The dev’s defence is that in practice most female agents act straight.

      I find it fascinating how simple rules can result in interactions that are terrifyingly similar to the real world. The article makes me want to play Rimworld but also massively raises my hackles over the dev’s response.

    • beekay says:

      It’s gender role expectations. They’ve encoded it in. Attraction does show a statistical curve sort of like this. I’m sure it was self-aware; you’re not going to build two very different curves for men and women and think “yup, women aren’t attracted to younger guys. That’s just how things work!”

      The values are exaggerated because otherwise you’d never notice this system at work, and there should be a penalty for being bombarded by solicitations (although it’d be an exponentially more severe penalty, which doesn’t map well to Rimworld’s mood system, which makes it more complex to implement and maybe that’s why it was skipped over). It’s a work in progress. I don’t see why this is knocking it off peoples’ wishlists.

      • pepperfez says:

        I don’t know that it’s the dumb attraction system setting people off so much as the developer showing up and utterly shitting himself in comments. That sort of thing often generates ill will.

        • ryth says:

          Exactly. When i read this article originally i very much thought, ‘Wow this is a well done article that really makes you do some self-examination on your subconscious biases, but it’s also a great opportunity to improve the game!’.

          Then the dev freaked out and perhaps showed his true colours which has made supporting the game going forward much more difficult.

          • plasmachris says:

            Also note that the original article presented this as a “code comment” which made it look like it came directly from my code. Decompiled code does not include comments. The blogger wrote that comment (and all the others) herself. She also restructured the code and added names of variables and such (decompiled code doesn’t include local variable names). It’s better regarded as her pseudocode interpretation of my code, not anything I actually wrote. (this text edited to clarify).

            From the developer. This journalist lied about the code and the meaning of it.

  5. Grendael says:

    Some of these coded rules are obviously wrong if course almost to the point i would say bug (such as male not being attracted to male but straight female always a bit bi). But should Ty just make no differentiation between genders? Seems like the most obvious way to go. How can it be coded to make interesting differences between genders without offending anyone? Would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

    • Xocrates says:

      “But should Ty just make no differentiation between genders”

      It depends on what exactly you gain by doing so. The system described above implements an old-fashioned way of looking at gender dynamics in what appears to be a per-gender approach for a system that largely appears to be invisible to the player.

      Frankly, in these conditions I either wouldn’t bother, or would randomize the various parameters on a per-individual basis where even if gender based biases were added there was the possibility of more varied behaviour.

      • Sargonite says:

        Yeah, I agree, randomizing tendencies per individual would make the most sense. I guess that’s an extra layer of data caching that the developer didn’t want to bother with, but that would have been a more interesting approach.

      • Grendael says:

        Seems like a winner to me yeah. Every person has to potential to present the best and worst of us. why hard code it to gender.

        It seems to me Ty probably just did a quick google search and banged in some random stats without thinking it through. I feel he should have been contacted for comment though as this sort of article can ruin someone nowadays. If my feeling is correct then this is an unintentional oversight. He is the sole developer after all.

      • shde2e says:

        Rather than fully randomizing it, I’d use a randomized base, then add a layer based on traits and the personality that pops out. So same traits are attracted, some traits affect attraction for various reasons, etc.

        Unless thats what you meant in the first place, in which case apologies for just repeating you :)

    • pnic101 says:

      Agree that ‘no difference’ probably isn’t the right answer. It’s the starkness of difference and their correspondence with old-fashioned stereotypes which seems troubling here. If he’d made women 70% less likely instead of 12% less likely to initiate romance, I have to imagine it’d be a lot less objectionable. Same with the age thing. The cutoff being +15 vs +40 could be narrowed a lot and allow for difference without really forcing the characters into stereotypical gender roles.

      • GHudston says:

        “No difference” is probably the safest answer, not that there really is a safe answer whenever you mention gender at all in 2016, but I agree that it’s probably not the right one. The best alternative, I think, would be to base the numbers entirely on raw statistics from reliable studies. My gut feeling is that women do make fewer romantic advances than men in real life, for whatever reason, so find out exactly what the ratio is in real life and plug those into the code.

        There are some seriously bizarre decisions in there though that I struggle to believe were made by mistake or laziness, I just don’t want to immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s intentionally malicious.

        • Tacroy says:

          Also we’re not talking about the world of today, we’re talking about whatever happens in a couple thousand years. Given that societal norms are trending towards equality, it wouldn’t be out of place to just use the same code for both genders.

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            Xan says:

            A quick reminder on Rimworld lore:

            Because this happens regularly, people in the RimWorld universe come from extremely varied technology levels. Some are stone-age tribespeople. Some are medieval farmers and lords. Some are industrial-era politicans and bankers and riflemen. Some are information-age programmers or astronauts. And some are from eras beyond our own.

            What applies to technology may also apply to morals. I’d expect to see a mix of ethical beliefs.

        • Hyena Grin says:

          There are differences between men and women, but they are bell-curve shifts with a huge amount of overlap. There is almost no research which shows dramatic psychological differences between men and women. There just tends to be a confirmation bias that is reinforced by the media and cultural preconceptions.

          The incredibly stark differences between men and women in Ty’s code represent something utterly different. I would like to believe this is because he simply wasn’t thinking very hard about it and threw in some stuff that ‘felt right.’ But instead it turns out he just did some really lazy research and stopped at ‘confirmed my preconceptions.’

          At this point, I seriously hope he’ll take something positive away from this. I don’t wish Ty any ill-will, but he is definitely wrong about a variety of things, and I hope this pushes him to dig a little deeper.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      As far as I know, the solo developer on this game is Tynan Sylvester, who actively defends racism and private discrimination against gays on twitter ( link to twitter.com ). So it’s no shock that he categorizes people and their behavior in explicitly gendered terms.

      Notably, Dwarf Fortress approaches things differently, but that’s for another article.

      • GHudston says:

        Oh… I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but that explains a lot.

      • CurlyFries says:

        I don’t see how your linked tweet shows that Tynan “actively defends racism.” I do take from the linked tweet that he was actively defending free speech, my favorite right guaranteed by my favorite amendment to the U.S. constitution. His point, and the point of the linked article, is that even people who call themselves “activists” can be wrong or criminal, and that trying to restrict viewpoints critical of those activists because we don’t agree with them or are afraid of backlash chills democracy and meaningful dialogue about important issues like race.

        What Tynan’s tweet and the article *don’t* do is defend racism.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          I think you missed the part where (1) there is no free speech issue because we are talking about a private entity’s choice about what products to promote and (2) the product is explicitly racist.

          • CurlyFries says:

            “I think you missed the part where (1) there is no free speech issue because we are talking about a private entity’s choice about what products to promote and (2) the product is explicitly racist.”

            ————-

            It seems *you* missed the part where (1) neither I nor the linked article implied the restriction on speech was government-imposed, and (2) you simply assumed the product was racist without putting any actual thought into it.

            Firstly, as a former journalist, I am sick to death of the mantra that if the speech restriction isn’t government-imposed, there is no free speech issue. From a strictly constitutional perspective, of course that’s legally true. But in a world where increasingly our forums for speech are controlled by private corporations (like Google in this case), our meaningful opportunities for truly free speech grow fewer and fewer all the time. Instead of accountable representative bodies that are forced by the constitution to allow all viewpoints to be heard, we get private entities that are afraid of the vicissitudes of public opinion eating into their bottom line, exercising their Terms of Service to keep people out of the opinion marketplace. In a world where fewer and fewer channels are truly susceptible to *government* censorship, and more and more are susceptible to *corporate* censorship, I think we need to be less concerned with the absolute bounds of the First Amendment, and more concerned with the chilling effects that any source of muzzling have on public dialogue on important issues.

            Secondly, I’m going to have to go ad hominem here – you just *assumed* the game in question is racist. Why did you do that? I’m seriously curious. Is it because this *fictional game* dared to portray BLM activists as acting in the wrong, or criminally? Because that’s the conclusion I’m forced to draw from your comment. If you can provide a meaningful explanation of why the product is “racist,” as you put it – one of the laziest epithets – then I’ll be interested. Instead you appear to have seized on the fact that the game in question placed black activist characters in an antagonist role as evidence of racism. This is intellectually lazy, and is frankly a slippery slope to calling anyone we disagree with “racist,” so long as race is somehow involved in the discussion.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            “Secondly, I’m going to have to go ad hominem here – you just *assumed* the game in question is racist. Why did you do that? I’m seriously curious. Is it because this *fictional game* dared to portray BLM activists as acting in the wrong, or criminally? Because that’s the conclusion I’m forced to draw from your comment. If you can provide a meaningful explanation of why the product is “racist,” as you put it – one of the laziest epithets – then I’ll be interested. Instead you appear to have seized on the fact that the game in question placed black activist characters in an antagonist role as evidence of racism. This is intellectually lazy, and is frankly a slippery slope to calling anyone we disagree with “racist,” so long as race is somehow involved in the discussion.”

            Actually it was the part where you kill them for their views on racism, but that niggling detail seems to slip through every defense of the game.

          • CurlyFries says:

            @Captain Joyless: If you actually look into the game, you’ll see the player kills the attackers because they’re wielding knives and will actively stab the player character unless they’re killed. Yes, the enemies do recite BLM and white-privilege related quotes while they attack, but the point of the game, like most video games, is to kill or be killed, not to kill people for their views. The quotes accompany the violent actions of the attackers as a commentary on the violent or criminal actions of a subset of BLM activists.

            Apparently you either didn’t look into the gameplay at all, or such a nuanced view of the game is beyond you. I guess any product that depicts killing violent attackers who express race-activist views is “racist.”

      • Synesthesia says:

        Shit, I didn’t know this. I wish i had before i bought the game.

        • MajorLag says:

          Consider this: If we always took the author’s personality into account when deciding weather or not to enjoy their work, no one would ever read Ender’s Game.

          It’s ok to both enjoy someone’s work and disagree with them on some things. Even if the developer is all the things he is accused of, he’s not Hitler. At worst you’re helping an asshole put food on the table in exchange for a game you enjoy.

          • Synesthesia says:

            I know, i don’t want to do that. I have avoided all of Doug Tennapel works since I learned about his… special qualities. It’s a matter of principle. I have plenty of other games I can’t play, without supporting someone who peddles dangerous ideas.

          • diamondmx says:

            Sadly, that’s one of the less great examples you could give. OSC is a marvelous author and a shitstain of a human being, and that’s no reason not to read or even support his works.
            What is a reason not to support his works is the fact that he financially supports anti-gay causes with money he makes from his work, with the money we give him, so anyone giving him money is in fact helping awful people to do awful things.
            Still good books, but don’t give him *money* for them

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      I was wondering about this. Very interesting article and I am mostly curious about the developers reasoning. THe obvious way to satisfy everyone would be just to have the same code for both genders, it would certainly avoid any criticism. Personally, i’d try to find ways to keep a bit of asymmetry in there as i think it makes things more interesting but i’d go for something other than gender attraction rules. For instance he could take the the teenage age bracket and make them far more adventurous or impulsive that older characters or he could discriminate against certain traits. I notice discrimination against disability is already in there, which whilst probably accurate for many is a little sad. I donno really, what world do your represent and who are you representing it for?

      • Grendael says:

        Yeah. Xocrates in a reply to my comment had a really good point of individual based weightings for various things. Rather than gender locking it. In some ways this would be is more interesting imo. Top idea. I would imagine this is a placeholder for a game in development.

        • Duke of Chutney says:

          Ignoring the flying chairs a bottles further down. Dwarf fortress I believe treats male/female as equals and only has hetero relationships. I think (and i could be wrong as i have not read the code) the only difference between male dorfs and female, is that female can carry babies and breast feed them, this is most noticeable if you have a female dwarf in your army as she may go into battle child in arms.
          Personally if character stats and reactions are all randomised from the same presets i tend to feel like a game or sim can feel a bit too much like a collection of random numbers. But i don’t know whether i would want a strong gender bias on anything. Dorf fortress is probably a bit too mild with breast feeding being the only defining factor of femininity as far as I can tell. I guess the smarter way to go about it would be a cultural angle. If in a fantasy game for instance you decided that within fictional culture men were more likely to be afraid of wombats you would probably get away with this because you could write it down as fictional cultural stuff. You could add some definition to your gender and move away from all characters being a random variance from a universal mean to having a character being born or arriving on the shuffle bus and their physical anatomy have potential implications on their psychology.

    • LogicalDash says:

      The constants in the code should be replaced with character-specific variables to represent, eg., cultures with different gender roles, or where it’s not socially acceptable to proposition a person outside of certain contexts or age ranges, and so forth. The game already has a bit of simulation done for your character’s background in things like backstories and familial relationships so it’s an obvious feature.

  6. Cocoarico says:

    Very interesting read, definitely would like to see more of this.

    I love rimworld and its interesting to see why one of my biggest frustrations with the game exists.
    I dont think the coding was malicious or naive at all and I believe Ty will be going back into relationships at some point to flesh them out some more.

    Its just another feature that is placeholder until he swings back around to it.

    • Sargonite says:

      Trust me, if it were placeholder, there would be no distinction between male and female characters in the first place. Adding that distinction is extra code, extra testing – extra work.

  7. FuriKuri says:

    Any attempt to get to carry out the bare minimum of journalistic integrity and seek a comment from the developer, or is that too much to expect these days?

    Just saying that perhaps, perhaps… we should do that before igniting torches and sharpening pitchforks. Over what appears to be maybe 2 lines of code difference.

    • Timmeister says:

      Absolutely, I’m not sure what this article achieves? Simply pointing it out to the developer would have been a lot more direct and less confrontational action, particularly in an early access title where code is unfinished

      • colw00t says:

        It achieves its goal of looking at the underlying code that drives a game behavior that seems odd?

        Personally I quite like the article, as I tend to find most any code analysis potentially interesting.

        • pepperfez says:

          It points out that a dumb sexist thing might be sexist, which is the second greatest personal affront in modern society (right after calling a racist thing racist).

      • shde2e says:

        Well, for one: It’s the writers job to produce an interesting, funny and/or informative article, not to give the developers feedback on how to make their game. That’s the devs job.

        For another, if this was early access code it would just be a very simple system that mostly ignored genders. This is actually a lot more complex, and thus requires more work and is more open to errors.

        This was quite clearly a deliberate design decision, not just placeholder.

    • Walsh says:

      Seriously, one man development team took shortcuts, news at 11. This article shouldn’t have been published as is, right now its needlessly incendiary towards a single indie developer who obviously doesn’t have the time/resources to full flesh out the myriad of ways people identify themselves and what they want bone.

      • Sargonite says:

        It’s not a shortcut. The shortcut would be making them behave the same, like how same sex marriage in Skyrim was essentially a shortcut by not adding extra checks for the sex of marriage partners.

        • FuriKuri says:

          Without comment from the developer, you cannot know the intent and therefore your supposition is worthless. You’re also asserting technical equivalence where there is none. What and how things were done in Skyrim is irrelevant. Maybe there is good reason for the code to be separate in Rimworld. Maybe there isn’t and it’s just smelly code. You certainly can’t judge based on the edited pseudocode in the article.

          • Premium User Badge

            Jekadu says:

            As the article notes, intent doesn’t really matter. What matters is the stories that *are* being told using the current system.

        • Orillion says:

          Relationships in Skyrim were also boring and one-dimensional. They were fine for what they were doing (marriage for the first time in an Elder Scrolls game) but they don’t generate stories.

          Every single game in this (sadly underexplored) genre has to be able to generate stories measuring up to the likes of Boatmurdered if they want to be remembered, and not all of them can get away with adding vicious man-eating elephants (although Rimworld has that) and magma-pumps decimating the local flora. Rimworld tries to do that with relationships, something Dwarf Fortress doesn’t put much emphasis on. For it to be interesting there needs to be some lopsidedness, and making it lopsided on the side of human nature (viewed through the lens of one man) is as good as any other solution.

          You can make the case (and others have) that it should be based on personal preference, but who’s to say that isn’t forthcoming? This is a decent, functional system that generates some very interesting scenarios from time to time, without being such a huge part of the game that it’s impossible to ignore (buggy beautiful lesbians notwithstanding)

          • Michael Anson says:

            Dwarf Fortress has had complicated relationships for quite some time now.

      • Peddie says:

        How is it a shortcut when he went out of his way to differentiate how the two sexes flirt? If he wanted to shortcut there’d have just been the same code applied to both. So you can stop making excuses for a dev who clearly is all too eager to defend himself in the comments while calling a fairly laid out article a “hit piece”.

        • shde2e says:

          I’d call it a hit piece!
          It’s clearly quite a hit, very popular (multiple comment pages already!)
          It hit some people’s faith and enjoyment in this game by uncovering some rather eyebrow-raising under-the-hood mechanics.
          It hit some interesting nails right on the head.
          It hit the “berzerk” button from the dev somewhat.
          Some commenters consider it a hit against a poor indie game thats still in early access so you cant critize it!

          I could go on all day if you want to :)

    • Thurgret says:

      Here I am asking people in the comments section if they’ve contacted the developer about it to express their grievances, but you’re quite right, of course. If the author has gone to the trouble of picking through game code, I hope the developer was at least contacted for comment, otherwise, considering how people tend to react to this sort of thing, it becomes a one-sided hatchet job.

      • pepperfez says:

        What’s in the game is in the game. It doesn’t matter what the developer has to say about it, any more than it matters what a developer has to say about why their game crashes or has too many fetch-quests. Nothing is being said about the developer in the article except that his game does some dumb things when it comes to gender and sexuality. And it very, very clearly does: it’s right there in the code.

    • flashlight_eyes says:

      the article itself bears no signs of malice towards the developer. Instead its a nice look into assumptions of gender that are literally hardwired into games, and how innocuously these may go by despite their real world ramifications.

      To simply contact the developer and avoid writing this article would do nothing to solve the problem. It is misleading to think of sexism as a problem of individual peoples faults. The point of the article is to broaden awareness and acknowledge the systemic existence of sexism that exists whithin our games.

      • FuriKuri says:

        So what could *easily* be the result of a bad code merge can only be interpereted as part of a sexist conspiracy?

        Both you and the author have automatically assumed that this is by design and it may not be. That’s the problem with the article and why the first tickbox for any journalist should be to seek comment. I’m a coder by trade and, sure, the code never ‘lies’. But I don’t ever mistake that truth for the author’s intent.

        • LosbterBox says:

          Ty refused the interview

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            No, read it again, properly this time.
            He refused the interview when the writer would not agree to publish his response without the right to edit it.
            That would scream to me that the person writing the article wanted to portray me in a bad light. What other reason would the writer have for not agreeing to an unedited response?

        • pepperfez says:

          If code just naturally falls into the shape of silly sexist rom-com conventions, that’s a pretty fucking interesting story right there. Does that happen with all software, or just games? Are, like, supply-chain management systems constantly having to be revised to stop making PMS jokes?

      • Faxanadu says:

        To say this isn’t malicious is laughable. The article practically REEKS of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      The developer was contacted for comment but refused to participate in an interview unless we ceded editorial control. I wasn’t willing to do that.

      FWIW, I personally think RimWorld is great, we’ve written many positive articles about it, and I don’t think this cancels out the game’s positive qualities. But I also don’t think that being in early access or unfinished means that you can’t analyse and criticise the explicit and implicit statements a game is making through its design. As long as it’s publicly available – and especially it’s for sale – I think it’s fair to critique.

      • FuriKuri says:

        Don’t you think that perhaps that is *still* very important information that should’ve been included in the article?

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          We debated it at length and decided that it would require a length description of editorial policy and was a distraction from the content of the article. In retrospect, the wrong call! I’ve added a note to the end of the article now and highlighted my comment so that it hovers at the top.

          • CurlyFries says:

            And did you *highlight* the fact that “ceding editorial control” actually means – in this context – that the developer didn’t want to consent to his responses being edited, possibly to prevent spin? No, you did not. You just left it up to the comment-reader’s imagination that Tynan wanted to edit the article.

            “Cede editorial control” – what an ass-covering phrase. And this is coming from an attorney.

          • admanb says:

            That’s not what ceding editorial control means. Journalists don’t give up the right to edit text that’s going to appear in their publication. Full stop. It has nothing to do with editing for spin.

            If Tynan was worried about spin there are plenty of requests he could make that would allow him control over his words. Refusing to let any editing happen at all is fundamentally misunderstanding the process.

          • behrooz says:

            Always entertaining when we get an offended sock puppet.

          • shde2e says:

            Curly, that argument swings the other way, and a lot harder too.

          • 13thLetter says:

            Graham, you owe the developer a sincere apology. This is a hit piece and he was right to not participate. You really need to rein in your writers before they do even more damage to RPS’s reputation.

          • CurlyFries says:

            shde2e: Can you explain what you mean?

          • shde2e says:

            If the developer demanded editorial control to prevent RPS from putting him in a bad light, then doesn’t that argument also work for RPS themselves?

            It would seem rather bad journalism to give the devs carte blanche in editing articles talking about their own game. In fact, the writer would probably be very well aware that the developer could easily spin this story in his favor or simply remove anything that might reflect badly on him or his game.

            Refusing to give outsiders editorial control of your platform just seems like common sense, and doubly so when you’re writing about those same people.

      • Naum says:

        I’m still somewhat confused by this “cede editorial control” wording. Here in Germany, the usual process seems to be[1]:

        1. Have a talk/interview with the article’s subject.
        2. Extract any direct quotes you wish to use.
        3. Ask the subject whether it’s ok to use these specific quotes (or, as a stronger condition, whether they are ok with the way they are used in the finished article).

        Worst case you don’t come to any agreement about the use of direct quotes, in which case you publish the article without them (as if the interview had never happened). Usually, there will be some quotes which the subject feels misrepresent their position, but the majority goes through.

        Do you use a process like this? If so, did the RimWorld developer not agree to it? If not, what do you consider “ceding editorial control”?

        Thanks in advance for any answers!

        [1] I am not a journalist.

        • shde2e says:

          That does seem like a logical procedure. And the lack of any quotes combined with the fact he refused an interview does make that seem like the obvious answer[1].

          As for the “cede editorial control” phrase: I read it as that the dev demanded that he would essentially be the editor for this article, instead of the RPS editors. Which would allow him to alter the article as he pleased[2], which is quite the conflict of interest.

          [1] I am not a journalist either, nor do i know the RPS procedures for this.
          [2] Not an editor either, so i might be wrong in this.

      • Lambert2191 says:

        You are a liar, this article is a misrepresentation for the benefit of… what exactly? LOOOK GUYS!!! WE FOUND SEXISM (where none exists) LETS GET OUR WITCH HUNT ON!!!!

        You have legions of fools saying they will never buy Rimworld now, to their loss of course, well I’ll go the opposite direction. Your site can go fuck itself. I will not be back. 0 respect for low effort hit pieces. You’re a detriment to this industry and barely better than the likes of Kotaku. Goodbye.

        • dauw says:

          I agree, this is extremely disappointing. I always figured RPS was one of the better gaming news websites out there and I’ve greatly enjoyed many of their articles. But digging through the code of an unfinished game to find evidence of sexism to fuel some disgusting outrage culture? That’s pretty low.

          • deadfolk says:

            It saddens me deeply to agree also. I’ve been coming to RPS for a good while, and there have been some questionable articles in more recent times which have given me reason to question doing so.

            This piece, however, is a new low in my opinion.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        What’s the reasoning for not letting the raw response of the dev be published though?
        If I were him that would give a big red light telling me that you just want to cherry pick through my responses and use it to further make me look like the bad guy.

        • shde2e says:

          The way I read this it it’s either 1: because the dev refused permission to publish his words without being given editorial control,
          or 2: RPS does not want to publish unedited stuff, because it’s bad writing, or because it would mean posting whatever page-long rant the dev threw out (he already made a few in the comments, so it would probably be long). That, and if the dev wanted to let his voice be heard unedited, he could always go to the comment section (and they did give his comment top spot).

    • TynanSylvester says:

      I’m the developer of RimWorld.

      The author of this anger-farming hit piece did email me asking if she could ask me some questions. However, she wanted to edit my responses. When I said I’d be willing to answer questions, but not if the responses were edited, she went silent. I guess she wasn’t willing to print the other side of the story if she didn’t have the power to edit it.

      There’s also some blatant lying in this article, where the author pretends not to know things that I specifically told her.

      For example, Claudia wrote: “It’s a game that’s still under constant development, and so this relationship system might well continue to develop and change. On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work.”

      However, in my email response I said, “You should be aware that there are some bugs in the relationship system in Alpha 15 that are already reported and fixed for Alpha 16. So you’re analyzing a broken system :/ Also, this system is just something slammed together to get the game working in a basic way. It’s just barely functional enough to fill its role. It’s never been intended as any kind of accurate or even reasonable simulation of the real thing.”

      So she knows for a fact that the system as it works has known bugs, already fixed. She knows for a fact that it’s very rough. Yet she insists on presenting this as some sort of “might well be” theory as though she has no more information.

      Now onto the ‘journalism’. The way this is written is disgusting. There’s no attempt to get an explanation or understanding of why the code works as it does. The decision was specifically made to not ask me any question, or understand why these decisions were made, or comprehend the research or meaning behind them. It’s purely written in the style of a witch hunt – point at the heretic, maliciously misinterpret everything in the most moralistic, angry way possible, and harvest the resulting anger for clicks.

      I saw it coming a mile away, which is why I wanted my words to be printed unedited.

      Is this journalism? No, because it doesn’t make the minimal effort to get or present the truth fairly.

      Is it opinion? No, it’s not an editorial.

      It’s anger-farming, combined with a moralistic witch hunt. It’s the worst kind of click-bait – they type that generates anger on purpose, where none needed to exist, in a community that was perfectly at peace beforehand.

      Notice how it specifically skirts as close to calling me a “malicious” person as possible without actually making the claim.

      The truth of this system is that it is very rough, and that it’s based on research and discussions with various people. I’d be willing to talk about these things, in the context of an honest discussion of hows and whys. This is not that, so I’m not going to try to justify every part of this here.

      I will, however, quote a discussion I had with another user who contacted me about this, so we can all see an example of what an honest discussion looks like. Here it is:

      *** FROM USER

      So I’m sure you’ve seen it discussed extensively that gay colonists need some tweaks, from a game balance perspective. The community generally agrees that advances between colonists of incompatible sexualities should be decreased, so they would stop getting “rebuffed” mood penalties needlessly.
      This isn’t particularly urgent in my opinion, since there are (as usual in Rimworld) some creative and questionably moral ways to get around this. I’ve expressed my opinions, and you can react however you please; it’s your game. But if you’re already planning on changing the code for romancing/sexuality, I have a few things to request:
      First off, I’m bi, and no colonists are bisexual in Rimworld. It would nice to get some representation, blah blah blah… In truth this isn’t a big deal to me personally, I just thought I might bring it to your attention that we exist.
      Now, one thing that really does bother me, both from a game-balance and “political” point of view, is a conclusion drawn from this thread: “set a value that multiplies attractiveness by 0.15 at the end, then keep going. That’s right – women are always a little bit bi.” If neither gender had this multiplier, I would write it off as you not wanting to overcomplicate game mechanics (not that you need to or seem to feel the need to). If both did, I don’t think anyone would have a problem. It could even be a minor workaround fix for the current complaints, allowing gay colonists to have a small chance to succeed in their advances on straight ones.
      But at the risk of calling your opinions invalid (not my intent) I have to insist that being “bi-curious” is not asymmetrical between genders, as you seem to imply in this code. I’m not going to tell you how to make your game, and I certainly have no intentions of telling you how to think, but I just wanted to express my opinion as an admiring member of your game’s community. Overall you’ve created something great that a lot of people enjoy.
      ***
      Hi there, thanks for the mail.
      I think bi-curiosity is quite asymmetrical between sexes. I’ve developed this view from research, and it also aligns with what I’ve observed personally.
      Research: link to advocate.com
      The above study indicates that a larger proportion of women who identify as straight are bi-curious or have engaged in bisexual behavior.
      Research: link to williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu
      The above paper indicates (on page 6 specifically) that of people who identify as gay/lesbian/bi, the proportion of bi among women is about double the proportion of bi men.
      And personal observations: I’ve known some bi women and a large proportion of the nominally straight women I’ve known have discussed bi impulses or experiences they’ve had. In contrast, every bi man I’ve ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay. These patterns seem to apply even in very gay-friendly social contexts.
      Of course I’m sure bi/bi-curious men exist, but the research and what I’ve seen supports the conclusion that they’re rarer than bi women. Conversely, gay women seem to be rarer than gay men.
      Nor am I an expert in all this; the game simply attempts a very rough approximation of some patterns from real life. In truth I never did a full analysis of every possible situation this code could run into. I’m sure various numbers are wrong. But, it’s functional and gets the job done.
      In truth I hate these discussions because there’s really no way to reach agreement. So I don’t ask you to agree with me necessarily, only to understand why I would make these choices given the research and observations I’ve found.
      Best
      Ty
      ***
      Wow, thanks for this great reply! I think you should post an explanation like this somewhere public. (Maybe you did, and I missed it) I’m sure people like me would appreciate that you put a lot of thought into this, rather than just basing it on stereotype. That was my biggest concern, honestly. This is great!
      But the other burning question – just because I’m curious: Are you planning on tweaking the code? The “dealing with attractive lesbians” thread is actually the highest scoring one of all time in /r/rimworld, heh. No judgement either way, I’m just wondering your thoughts on the functionality of it. Thanks again!
      ***
      Sadly these discussions, had in public, have a tendency to attract people that enjoy conflict. So I choose to just try to do something reasonable (that I can explain if ultimately necessary), but not to put out justifications for it because they’d be bait for any Internet flame-wars. Because you know no matter what I say some people will hate it – and some of those might hate it a lot, and I just have better things to do than deal with that. It’s a sad thing about the Net.
      As for the lesbians, I added a “gaydar” factor so colonists will be less likely to attempt romance with others of non-matching orientation. That was easy – just something I didn’t think to add before. Of course awkward interactions will still happen, just not so constantly and repeatedly, because that made little sense and screwed up the balance.
      Best Ty

      • colw00t says:

        “anger-farming hit piece”

        Heh.

      • yellowarcher says:

        Disappointingly incendiary response. Comments like “every bi man I’ve ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay” just illustrate that everything in the system is based on this guy’s personal biases. Might wanna look into bi erasure.

        This response alone took me from thinking “he may have written some stuff based on some unhealthy implicit biases, but hopefully he’ll be open to this discussion and will fix it” to “never gonna play Rim World.”

        • Badgerbaps says:

          Would you say more or less incendiary than this article?

          • Armillary says:

            Trying to pin down how “incendiary” each piece is does no real good. One can reply without ridiculous defensiveness to an incendiary article just as well as a bland one! I think the point of the article was to highlight the risk of implicit bias even in mechanistic simulation games, rather than to indict the developer and nail them to a cross. Whether or not it was meant to be incendiary, the developer took it as an extreme hit piece and reacted with way too much intensity, showing a ton of biases that make me (and yellowarcher) really uncomfortable.

          • Faxanadu says:

            @Armillary biases which he gave perfect reasoning for – so I don’t really see any reason to be upset, other than some crazy ideology.

            And they DID nail him to the cross. Basically called the game sexist in a passive aggressive tone. If his reply was fiery this article was NAPALM to the game.

          • Badgerbaps says:

            Admittedly my point wasn’t as clear as I would have liked.

            The point I was trying to make is Ty is one man. It’s easy to feel under-represented in a situation like this, and Ty clearly does.
            Whilst I don’t agree totally with the way he replied, I think it’s unfair to judge him and “lose all respect” for him simply because he lost his cool when he felt attacked.

            Its easy to judge him when it’s not our years of blood sweat and tears being scrutinised in a seemingly poorly handled article.

        • aepervius says:

          “just illustrate that everything in the system is based on this guy’s personal biases. ”

          Not really. He even gave links. Reading him, he does not come a 1/10 as flaming as people pretend.

          On the other hand the whole pieces remind me of the worst of Kotaku’s article. Do you all wonder why people don’t like to have their response edited ? Well try quote mining.

          PS: frankly life is biased. And does not care about our feeling of moral or ethical equality.

        • Lambert2191 says:

          Your loss. No one gives a damn if you play Rimworld or not. It is a fantastic game with tons of depth though, so really the only one missing out here is the triggered little snowflake I am replying to.

      • Premium User Badge

        subdog says:

        What aspects of the relationship and gender roles described in the article would you characterize as “bugs” and which ones would you consider “working as intended”?

        • pepperfez says:

          The parts you like are working as intended, the parts you think should be changed are totally random errors, whatever criticism you have is invalid, STOP SHOUTING.

          I mean, I’m guessing something adjacent to that.

      • Faxanadu says:

        Damn I just wish RPS would leave out the politics and ideology… Is this really the right avenue for all this? Did we really need to make this heap of anger? Disappointed.

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          Very much agree. I don’t think it’s appropriate to use an entertainment publication as a political soapbox. If you want to encourage political discourse on matters relevant to gamers… okay, I can see why you might want to do that, and I’m all for it. Being openly partisan, however, puts a sizable obstacle in the way of free and open debate, and just ends up pissing everyone off.

          • Michael Anson says:

            First, gender representation in video games is a political issue that affects gamers.

            Second, every publication has a political basis, and publicly states as such. RPS is no different.

        • Premium User Badge

          Jekadu says:

          It’s RPS. I’m not sure what you expected. This site lives and breathes New Games Journalism.

        • mrbeman says:

          There is no such thing as leaving the politics and ideology out. Part of the point here is that they are literally coded into the game’s assumptions. Pretending as if you’re “leaving them out,” simply means that you’re accepting them as-is just as and only so long as they conform comfortably to positions you already hold. This is why different parts of the internet get angry when Heimdall is played by Idris Elba or what would happen to Rimworld if, for example, Ty switched the hard-coded gender roles in the other direction tomorrow. If he did that, suddenly all of the people who never noticed the weirdness of the current system would become confused and angry about the new system.

          • dauw says:

            Most people would just play the damn game and enjoy it. These triggered little snowflakes are a vast, extremely vocal minority within a minority, venting their frustrations on the Internet. Meanwhile, Rimworld, a game made by essentially one person, remains highly rated and one of the more popular games on Steam.

          • Premium User Badge

            FhnuZoag says:

            Agreed. So why are so many commenters throwing a hissy fit over this article, again?

          • Marr says:

            People who reflexively accuse their opponents of being triggered are always such fine examples of stoic calm.

      • gi_ty says:

        Thanks Ty I agree with you.

      • Armillary says:

        After this tendentious and overly defensive reply, I’ve lost a lot of respect for you. I really enjoyed your work on Rimworld, but I think you could have handled your response a lot better.

        • TynanSylvester says:

          You’re right, I’ll definitely fault myself on tone.

          • ulix says:

            Alright. I do think you overreacted, as even as lefty SJW (a “linksgrüner Gutmensch” as I like to call myself) I didn’t get my pitchfork out when reading the article.

            At the same time I think your overreaction is totally understandable, because if you do pour years of work into something you tend to get very attached and defensive when someone criticizes said work.

            I’m still thinking of getting the game. Hell, I’ll definitely buy it at some point.

            But I do hope you tweak the system.

            Someone probably already said all this more eloquently, but I’ll try to explain some of the problems a lot of people seem to have with your system.

            First, the numbers are way off, even if you take the research you linked into account. For example women are not 8 times less likely to initiate romatic contact than men. They are less likely, yes, but not to that degree.

            Secondly, most of the behaviourial patterns you based your code on are culturally constructed – at least to a certain degree. To what degree…? That’s an argument for another time, and outside of the scope of this comment. Nature vs. nurture and all that.

            But anyway, this is a scifi game. Who knows how society and culture will look in 100, 300 or 500 years. It’s unlikely, but maybe women will be more likely to court men by then, at least in some cultures.

            It’s your game I guess. And as long as you make these values moddable I’ll be totally satisfied with whatever.

            Please make them moddable.

          • Armillary says:

            I appreciate your giving on that. I’ve gotten bad peer reviews for years’ research and been pretty angry about it, so I *do* get the frustration. But you have to understand that there is an emotional core behind the writing that may not be obvious. A lot of queer people grow up being assigned bins by other people. “Guys can’t be bi.” “Women experiment.” “If you’re over 30, you won’t find a partner.” “Gay men don’t like sports.” “You sound faggy.” “Only dykes drive Subarus.” It is a weird mix of banal and deeply effacing, and it means the community tends to have a strong awareness for it because they are so common. The easy, glib answer would be to call it oversensitivity and dismiss it. That’s fine, but I do think it’s worth empathizing with the viewpoint. Social constructs are damn complicated. Code does encode the values of the author, and sometimes that kind of discussion can be uncomfortable for everyone involved.

            In any case, I do look forward to seeing where things end up with the game. I had fun playing it until shielded raiders killed my whole village.

        • DeadlyAccurate says:

          Feel the same way, Armillary.

        • flashlight_eyes says:

          thanks for representing the queer viewpoint. Although i have no doubt the creator had good intentions and thought he was writing from science, its really just frustrating to have queer experiences be consistently experience. Especially when dealing with both indie games and fantastical settings where the creator has all the space in the world to not keep beating us over the head with the same old shit

        • PaulV says:

          I agree with Armillary as well. As a queer, genderqueer-ish, kinky, polyamorous, autistic person I’m very much aware of the many ways in which the real world actively discourages me from being who I am. Our society resists deviancy, to the degree that it hurts those that can’t help but deviate. And those that can help it simply fall in line, even though they would behave differently if it wasn’t made so hard.

          So when you say that bisexual men don’t really exist and they always end up being gay. That isn’t because men are never bisexual, but because for many it’s easier to deny that part of themselves than it is to go against the grain. You coded your game in a way that said grain is completely insurmountable, making it even more hostile to bisexual men than real life is. Women are allowed to deviate a bit more when it comes to bisexuality, and so they do.

          Also bisexuals are mostly invisible because people tend to assume they’re either straight or gay, this is called bi erasure and is a whole thing.

          And if you think people couldn’t possibly deny themselves their sexual orientation because of societal expectations, I invite you to go read a couple of bisexual forums and see for yourself how many 50-year old men with a wife of 30 years are only now admitting it to themselves. But not to their wives, because they can’t even trust the person they trust the most with that terrible, shameful secret. Or you know, watch Brokeback Mountain or something.

          Also try not to see all of this as an attack on your character, but rather an attack on some assumptions you happen to have through no fault of your own. Most people have those assumptions, because we normalize what we see when we’re growing up. But if we don’t point out that those assumptions are problematic, things won’t get better for those who are impacted by them the most. Please just think about it.

        • Lambert2191 says:

          Tynans defensiveness is reasonable and expected when he is being needlessly attacked. This is a hit piece, and Tynan did not get the chance to have any input whatsoever, when he absolutely deserves to. You lost respect for him? That is simply pathetic.

          • dauw says:

            If anything this makes me respect him more. He’s just a man, he has feelings like everyone else, and when someone goes through this much effort to shit on your work for such idiotic reasons, you are bound to get a little defensive. That he goes on record to fault himself for tone is even more impressive. Tynan, you rock. Pay no attention to the outrage culture-fueled silly snowflakes.

      • Grendael says:

        Always alarm bells when your quotes won’t be printed in full.

        • admanb says:

          That’s how journalism works. Editorial standards mean that all content you print adheres to the same standards — you don’t give that up because an interview subject demands it.

          • Lambert2191 says:

            And journalists are no longer respected precicely because of that. Especially not the peddlers of crap like this article.

      • Muzman says:

        Some good details, but you’re needlessly defensive here. The article’s ‘anger farming’ couldn’t get a yield with a back hoe.
        You’re probably thinking of how we live in tropical climes these days where all sorts of madness grows by itself. But that has nothing to do with the fairly clear tone this piece has.

        • TynanSylvester says:

          You’re probably right, I should’ve stuck more to just the facts and let people draw their own conclusion.

          I’ll fault myself for tone.

          I think making this info available was necessary, though.

          • Muzman says:

            I agree, and thanks for it. It is your baby, so I get it. I think it’d be good if they highlighted those details and exchanges too, as I don’t think hit piece was the intent, but I expect a deluge of overreaction of various kinds might be coming regardless.

          • Lambert2191 says:

            No, Tynan, he is not right. This is a hitpiece that needlessly attacked you and did not allow you to have a voice. You getting defensive is not only expected, it is necessary. You cannot just lay down and let these wannabe-journalist moral harbingers just walk all over you. If anything, you were needlessly lenient with her.

      • Premium User Badge

        modzero says:

        every bi man I’ve ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay

        …as with any claim from this class, the reality is much more likely to be “every bi man I’ve ever known has ultimately stopped talking to me”.

      • FuriKuri says:

        So now we have the intent, and, typically, I disagree with your assertions. :) I’ll set aside the ‘backed up by research’ part (lies, damned lies and statistics) and state that you should be mindful of the adage “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data'”. Just because every bi male you’ve known ended up in a long term gay relationship doesn’t mean bi men don’t exist. After all, what were they before they reached that state? And who’s to say that won’t change in future, and finally if they instead ended up with women would you assert they were just straight all along?.

        Good luck with the game at any rate.

        • Faxanadu says:

          So basically, we don’t really know, but let’s make an article calling the game sexist anyway?

          • klops says:

            Rimworld definitely needs to show the future of human relations as I want and not in the way the dev sees them today!

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        Hi Tynan!

        I made the decision not to accept the conditions you laid out for the interview. We have a policy not to cede editorial control to developers or interview subjects. There are a bunch of reasons for this – for example, quotes read better when broken up and used in an article rather than presented in long, separate blocks. Also, sometimes people say libelous things, and we can’t promise to publish things that might trigger lawsuits. And in general, our readers expect us to be editorially independent.

        This article is written in good faith. It makes no accusations as to your intent. It does not mention you. It caveats the criticisms by making clear that the game is unfinished. Still, I think criticisms of the messages the game sends right now is fair, regardless of whether those messages will change in future – as is criticism of the negative impact those decisions have over the game design. It’s also clear from your comments that most of the decisions we’re criticising in the article were intentional.

        I disagree that this article is inflammatory or farming for clicks. There are a great many ways we could have written it differently, titled it differently, if that was our intent.

        In any case, thanks for taking the time to explain some of the thinking behind the decisions you made here in the comments.

        • Faxanadu says:

          “I disagree that this article is inflammatory”

          So either you’re not seeing this flame war, or you’re saying it wasn’t completely predictable. Pffft.

          • shde2e says:

            It’s not his fault people ran over and threw haybales at Christie’s matchstick.

        • TynanSylvester says:

          Graham, thank you for responding. I’ve always seen you as a professional character and I see that in your responses to my (I admit) somewhat angry response.

          I understand you wouldn’t necessarily want to agree to print literally anything I sent you. But you could, for example, do the interview and then agree to print all or none of it. Or, use it as an information source without quoting my words. You didn’t need to simply cut off contact and give up on understanding half the story.

          Now, onto some specific issues with the article.

          Regarding personal accusations, it says, “there might not be any specific commentary on or interpretation of gender roles behind this, malicious or otherwise”. Not a direct accusation, but neither is, “I’m pretty sure he’s not beating his wife”.

          The title says that RimWorld defines “strict gender roles”. This is not true. In RimWorld, men cook, women fight, women propose and hit on men, and so on. The game applies some probability factors to some behaviors based on the character doing the behavior. That’s it. It’s simply wrong to say there are “strict” gender roles in the game, as though it forces every character into a 1950’s stereotype.

          I am wary of this subject and I think you know why. It’s got a lot of potential to harm me personally and my business, even if I don’t do anything “wrong” and have good, good-faith reasons for every choice I made. That’s why I didn’t want my words edited. But you could’ve explored my side of this in other ways, even without needing to print my words at all.

          I trust your personal good faith Graham. But I think something went wrong for this article to be posted in its current form. I see it as a disservice to readers, to RimWorld players (who are being pushed to anger where none existed before), and to myself as well.

          In any case, thank you for responding again.

          • Chaotic Entropy says:

            This article is rather a lot of needless vitriol… I’ll be sure to tune in to their next article about how Skyrim has an implicit imbalance of male to female warriors. Games developers have to make arbitrary decisions of hard-coded things 24/7 and shouldn’t be expected to be anthropologists in order to do so.

            I hope this episode hasn’t dispirited you towards your development, even if the idiotic comments section leaves a lot to be desired. Not to mention the poor response from RPS, with their “we held back from directly calling you a bigot by just implying it, so it’s okay” approach. Lost a lot more respect for RPS than I have for you, despite your somewhat “some of my best friends are black” style response. Keep up the good work, regardless.

        • Grendael says:

          “This article is written in good faith. It makes no accusations as to your intent”

          From article
          “It’s that it’s flawed in a way that perfectly mirrors existing sexist expectations of romance, with such specificity that it is hard to view it as unintentional”

          This is so close as makes no difference to an accusation. Also there is more in that paragraph that perhaps takes a step back from the accusation. Which is exactly why people don’t want to give up editorial control over their quotes in an article like this. Because of spin.

          • VampireCactus says:

            If an article that sites the literal source code of the game, lays it out plainly, makes obvious comparisons to current culture, and jumps through hoops to reassure the audience that it could just be an oversight due to early access is considered “spin” to you, I’d be hard pressed to find something that you wouldn’t consider spin.

          • babyjeans says:

            There are far too many comments implying this is the ACTUAL source code and not code modified and editted by Claudia. You need to clearly show the original code next to your edits. Decompiled code doesn’t have comments – all the comments are yours as written but presented as Tynan’s. You also named the variables yourself, also putting words in Tynan’s mouth. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but I see people down the comments referring to this as the ‘source’ as if its as Tynan wrote it.

            RED FLAGS about this, guys. You need to reel this in. It’s not journalism.

        • MrUnimport says:

          This article is written in good faith. It makes no accusations as to your intent. It does not mention you.

          At the risk of butting in, this article certainly lays out a lot of implications.

          • STARFIGHTER says:

            It lays out just as many reasons that those implications could be null by virtue of being temporary or otherwise unintentional or impermanent.

        • CMaster says:

          This article is intended to be an attack?
          Because thats what I certainly read it as. And apparently what the first 20 or so people to comment thought, judging by all the “yeah, that sucks” “won’t buy anything by this dev” etc.

          An open and balanced article would be something like “How Rimword models romantic relationships”. The intro would observe how most games don’t even try, and like to ignore them (possibly partly because of pieces like this). The body would then look at how Rimworld does it, and yes, observe along the way that the model may be flawed, that it bakes in some general societal assumptions, that the model is perhaps very “cis-het male” in outlook.

          But instead the article starts with the premise of “I found some sexism to bash”. That might be a fair critcism, it may not be – but it’s certainly intended as an attack.

          • nickylee says:

            “The intro would observe how most games don’t even try, and like to ignore them (possibly partly because of pieces like this)”

            That sums up one of my biggest gripes. This just makes it more likely that devs will think “Why even try to be inclusive in designing my game when I’m just going to get raked over the coals anyway?”

          • April March says:

            Perhaps a few years ago you could have argued that a game that tries to represent different sexualities well and fails is a worse bet than a game that doesn’t even try, but nowadays I don’t think this is correct.

            Plus, I don’t think “at least he tried” is a solid defence.

          • JarinArenos says:

            I didn’t move from “well, that seems like poor design; I hope it gets updated” to “not giving this any money” until I read the developer’s own words in response to the article.

        • Sabor117 says:

          Given that the article has “defines strict gender roles” in the title, I’d say it’s pretty hard to argue that this is not intended to be in any way inflammatory or accusatory. That is very much both a hot button topic and a pretty sensitive issue for many people so even titling that way is going to attract clicks and the beginnings of anger.
          Given the way it seems the writer of the article has absolutely refused to hear Tynan’s side of this, it came across as a pretty obviously direct attack on the game if not quite Tynan himself.
          Honestly I’m quite disappointed in the whole situation.

        • balbkubrox says:

          It makes no accusations as to your intent.

          If this the case, why is it that many of the comments to this article say things like:

          “deeply saddening. On the upside, it helps me prune my wishlist by one.”

          “I’m doing the same. This is too gross to bother with”

          “This is fascinating and a real shame.”

          Is it that the code as it stands is so objectively shameful and saddening that no explanation/assumption of author intent could possibly change that assessment, even if this was purely the result of buggy code?

          Peoples comments show this article was received as somehow condemnatory.

          I believe the author believes they’re being unbiased because they leave open many possibilities of the devs intent. But speculating about malicious intent is not arguing in good faith. Good faith means you assume the best possible intentions until proven otherwise.

          This article has assumed that the dev being an outright sexist, being unknowingly sexist and this being the result of simplifications of a early access model or a deliberate social commentary are all equally likely.

          In this light it should be obvious why some commenters are calling the devs work shameful whilst authors are reacting badly to those condemnatory remarks.

          This was totally unnecessary, the article could have been framed in a much more positive and constructive manner.

          • April March says:

            Perhaps the reason there are many of these comments is that people found even a clear, concise, and mostly bias-free display of how the code is handled to be appalling?

          • aepervius says:

            “Perhaps the reason there are many of these comments is that people found even a clear, concise, and mostly bias-free display of how the code is handled to be appalling?”

            But even that is incorrect on so many level. The code does not lay anything about gender role, if anything it lays only a little bit on which gender mostly make advance toward the other (men toward women, and anybody stating it isn’t the case is living in lala-land). There is nothing about cooking, there is nothing about firefighting or about what people see as gender ROLE to be – and rightfully as toxic. So *already* the title is implying something which is NOT there. Now if the title would have been about traditional gender behavior that would not be as click baiting would it not be ? And the code does not say anything about women being LESS or MORE good at some ROLE either…. It is jsut a small kludge about sexual behavior ! And there is a cited article about said behavior. But the article imply there is something sinister about modelling those behavior into a game. WHY ? why in the name of Baator should in game both gender be 100% identical in their behavior ? It is not the case in real life. Note that I say behavior again not ROLE.

            If you want to do something alienating, reverse gender behavior, mix them up. If you want to do something feel human, then reflect gender behavior in real life. Note again : behavior as keyword. Nature is a bitch and both gender do not behave the same. Neither in my experience homosexual of both gender again perception. There is a reason the trope of the flaming male homosexual exists, but not the flaming female homosexual. The numbers themselves are not identical. The sexual+gender landscape is not a nice beautiful symetrical figure. It is jagged and irregular as many studies shows.

            But what do we have here ? An article (not so) subtly condemning a dev for having a model of normal life. And the article subtly imply this is about gender ROLE discrimination, when in reality it is about gender behavior.

            Now that *is* what I would call SWJ hit job pejoratively.
            Will RPS only be happy if we have Utterly Sterile symmetrical gender behavior in game ? Because this is what the editorial hints at. If so , I can only condemn rps for limiting the imagination of the devs and the universe they can build. If you want insipide bland as fuck symmetrical behavior in your game… Then you suddenly limited all universe the devs can build by a severe factor.

        • Pantalaimon says:

          The way this content was delivered was well below the standard I have come to expect from RPS.

          Surely the entire point of highlighting these issues is to broach a discussion, in the spirit of moving things forward?

          RPS should have worked harder to make an interview happen. I feel like I have been robbed of a discussion between you and Sylvester, and the overall tone that this was ‘published without comment’ is not good enough, and has done far more harm than good.

        • baud001 says:

          > This article is written in good faith.

          Not sure if joking…

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          Xan says:

          This article (the way the topic and communication with the developer were handled) is the reason I will not, by default, be renewing my support for RPS. “Good faith” is not something attributable here.

          It’s very informative and interesting. The very idea of digging out complex systems out of games’ code is a good topic for games journalism. The tone and handling, however, are very much not appreciated.

          This opinion is still subject to change, but for now my monetary vote swung the other way.

        • Neutrino says:

          “This article is written in good faith.”

          Nearly spat my tea over my keyboard when I read that. This article is easily the most overt outrage farming hit piece I’ve read all year.

          I don’t have any issue with RPS publishing it, after all free speech and all, but let’s at least be brave enough to call a spade a spade shall we.

        • Lambert2191 says:

          What this is is an unfounded and disgustingly inaccurate hit piece and nothing more.

        • Chaotic Entropy says:

          Are you sh%@&ing me? “How RimWorld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles” isn’t inflammatory to you? That title in itself is an immediate indication that the game in question is about to be dragged through the mud.

          You know why “Gender Roles” (which is not even the correct term really) are strict in a computer game? Because it’s just some basic code. It’s not some magical wonder that can adapt itself to every delightful world view. “Men are too gay” and “Men aren’t gay enough” are surprisingly often pretty minor concerns for a programmer.

          It’s a guy making arbitrary decisions in order to get a feature out of the door without having to do a bloody anthropology degree in between. Read some articles, have a little think, say “f$%k it” and just go with whatever, since you’re going to be tweaking it anyway.

          This article could have been an interesting code analysis if it wasn’t dripping with barely contained drool at the prospect of a ad revenue fuelled witch hunt.

        • adammtlx says:

          Why not a compromise, Graham? He would give the interview and say yea or nay to the resulting edits. If nay, then you don’t print that part. Seems reasonable to me. Did you even ask?

          • Premium User Badge

            FhnuZoag says:

            Don’t you think that’s handing over a ton of leverage?

            Honestly, my opinion on this interview thing is that RPS has no responsibility to publish an article in the format of an interview, and given the degree of bad faith the author assumed of the writer (that she would edit his responses to make him look bad) it’s clear that no reasonable interview – as opposed to a shouting match – would have been possible. The actual important thing is to give the dev a chance to respond, and the dev did respond and get it printed, unedited.

          • adammtlx says:

            Mr FhnuZoag:

            Why is everyone dead set on either-or? Why does the developer have to hand over ALL his statements to be cut up and presented in any way RPS sees fit OR put RPS in the situation of having to print everything he says as-is?

            I never said it had to be in the format of an interview. Just that RPS would talk with Tynan, make their edits, and allow Tynan to veto anything he’s not happy with. I really don’t see why that’s so much more difficult than insisting on full authority to butcher his comments if you feel like it or you’ll disallow him from defending his work altogether, and then catching flak from your users as a result.

      • coincoincoin says:

        This response is, quite honestly, worse than the actual article. You not only clarify that the original article was correct about a lot of your thought processes, but you actually bring up some faux, mediocre science as “evidence”?

        You let yourself get defensive and retaliatory, ended up destroying your own case, when you could have just released your new version with real improvements.

        I will be staying away from this game. Too bad, I like this stuff in games, just not done extremely poorly.

        • bouchacha says:

          The Notre Dame paper is a simple survey asking individuals about their sexual preferences over time. The Williams Institute paper is widely cited as the definitive source for estimating LGBT demographics. Even if the papers were seriously flawed (I see no indication they are) there is nothing unreasonable about using them in the interim with the proper caveats and disclaimers until something better comes along. Science has to work step by step and makes corrections as new/better data comes along. Avoiding conclusions entirely until all your studies are perfect is a dead-end.

          So:
          1. What do you find deficient, faux, or mediocre about the research posted? Please be specific.
          2. Do you have better sources on LGBT demographics that could be used instead?

          • Hyena Grin says:

            I will just point out that self-report isn’t definitive in psychology.

            It is considered weak in terms of validity and is prone to suffer from a variety of biases.

            We use self-report a lot, but failing to recognize the limitations of this sort of study leads to making incorrect assumptions based on the results.

            The best way to look at self-report is that it tells you exactly what the person answering it wanted to tell you, and nothing more. If your goal is to design a questionnaire to determine whether or not a person has social anxiety, it can be useful, because a well-designed questionnaire that accounts for its inherent validity weaknesses will give you a pretty adequate way of verifying positive results.

            But that is supposing the person answering the test isn’t deliberately (or subconsciously) ‘doctoring’ their answers to be more socially desirable (ie, social-desirability bias).

            Which brings us back to the referenced study.

            There’s nothing inherently wrong with that study. It was not poorly conducted, as far as I can tell. It is a fairly standard self-report questionnaire.

            What is problematic, is the conclusions that Ty and some others have drawn from it. Any psychologist worth their salt (I am counting myself amongst them) would tell you that you cannot describe a population based on the results of a questionnaire. All you can say for certain is that the population tends to answer a certain way, not that a population is a certain way.

            The simple reality is that there is always a gap between self-report and the actual people that self-report is portraying. That gap grows reliably wider the more likely that social-desirability bias will come into play. It also grows wider with more complex questions, about complex subjects that are not always as easy to pin down as it might appear.

            Sexuality is a very complex subject, both personally, and socially. It is the perfect storm of complicating factors to result in questionnaire with low validity.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            @Hyena Grin: But we’re talking about a game here. An in progress game, too. Using such a study, no matter how flawed you think it, as a first approximation is better than just cooking up an ideological view of things, whether it is “all genders are equal” or “1950s stereotypes”, don’t you think?

            Ty’s not gonna start funding his own 50-year long research study on sexual behaviors. This was probably coded in a day to add another facet to the game and then he moved on. If you have another, better study, I’m sure he’d be interested to read about it.

          • Hyena Grin says:

            @FriendlyFire That’s just it though, it is worse. We have a much more approachable source for this sort of information than a random out-of-context study with low validity; sociology. Sociology and psychology don’t always get along, but psychology, at least outside of the pop-psych nonsense, is ultimately a science. And like other sciences, if you don’t have a good understanding of the context of a study within the broader field it exists in, of research methodology (power, validity, reliability), then there’s an old adage that applies very well:

            ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.’

            Nobody is asking Ty to do his own research study. I don’t think anyone is even asking him to do a lot more personal research into this one dubiously important facet of his game. At least for my part, I am asking him to realize ‘Oh, I had some preconceptions, I found one thing that seemed to confirm them, but that was a clearly mistake.’ Because it is a mistake. And one which feeds into some incorrect stereotypes.

      • Dinger says:

        Dude, if you think this is a hit piece, you got nothing to worry about.
        If you’re feeling blindsided by someone taking an aspect of the game you didn’t give more than ten minutes design thought to and subjecting it to a full on raging critique, welcome to the death of the author.
        Of course, your game is all about building a new world, and the criticism here is that it’s all so familiar.
        I mean, you could refine your data with the latest from dating sites, which do have horrific tidbits like women search for a partner their age, men look for someone under thirty. Or you could go wild with the demographics. Did you know that there’s not been a single model for age at marriage in Europe in recorded history?
        SimCity made a lot of assumptions about how people live, assumptions that make a lot of sense when viewed from Orinda.The only shame in getting this kinda analysis is in refusing its validity.

        • TynanSylvester says:

          I actually used to read the OKCupid blog :) Fascinating data. I didn’t reference it directly but I think that was something I remembered when slamming together the code for this system.

      • enamelizer says:

        I felt the article gave you the benefit of the doubt while criticizing the use of narrowly defined gender roles in Rimworld at the same time. I see from your absurdly defensive response that giving you the benefit of the doubt was a mistake.

        Thank you for posting, it spoke volumes more about your character than could ever be implied by this article. I will be requesting a refund. Not because of the article, but because of your response to it.

      • aerozol says:

        Well the article was ok, but parts of this response… gross. Anything to not accept responsibility aye.

        Also loving all the ‘RPS shouldn’t post this because it might upset people’ comments. If you think POSTING THE CODE is incendiary, then the problem might not be journalism but the code. But of course not… how could something you like not be perfect? To the internet, to defend it!!

        • adammtlx says:

          “Well the article was ok, but parts of this response… gross.”

          Are you a 16 year old girl in 1997?

        • Lambert2191 says:

          Responsibility for WHAT???? His game is not sexist, his game is nothing like the bullshit this article pretends that it is and you’re a fucking fool for believing in this shite. Fucking morons the lot of you

          • Shakes999 says:

            This is the correct reply. I am literally grinding my teeth reading some of these fuckdumb replys and rationale.

      • Nordstage says:

        Hi Tynan. First of all, thanks for the great game. Regardless of any differences in views regarding sexuality and gender, the game is great and you as a person isn’t defined by this story.

        Now, I dived in to your two sources and found no evidence of it beeing peer-reviewed. Still, if we assume the findings are scientifically sound, I suggest the following:

        Seeing that the sources you cite cleary states that sexuality is a social construct, why not program the game to socially construct colonists? It would make for great gameplay!

        • Nordstage says:

          And also: doing a bit of research myself just now it seems that the actual biological amount of bi/straight/homosexuals is unknown. We can merely measure the social impact on sexuality since this very impact seems to “cloud” ones true, biological sexuality.

          In other words, men might be as gay and bi as women, but from a constructivistic viewpoint women are more bi/gay than men. Very interesting!

      • Stootachtig says:

        I do support you Tynan. First part of your reply was a bit too fiery. But looking at your sources, they seem to match what you coded, and I can understand why you did it.

        I am a bit disappointed in RPS that they went to bash it this hard. It would have been better if you gave Tynan a chance to explain his side in the article. For example through the publication of you emailing back and forth about the subject. I’d enjoy that more than what is currently on the site.

      • EllaHecate says:

        I am thoroughly disappointed. I will never support a game that erases bisexual people. If this is a bug and unintended why bother to defend it as “researched and from personal experience”. It is also weird to imply most women are bi-curious. Most people are curious (sexually) to some degree. What matters is how they see themselves. The asymmetry is just bad.

        Inconsistent responses and trying to pin the fault on the journalist is a classic response when a journalistic piece actually made some good points. Trump surely agrees with you. That damned media is out to get you!

        If the problems related to what this article describes are a) bugs or b) actually intended features then talking about them is neither wrong nor dishonest.

        Nobody is saying your game is bad. In fact most people love it. But I know most of them will be disappointed in this and feel you’re trying to push an antagonistic narrative. I know I am.

        If you however were to change the system properly and remove the problematic asymmetry, I would be more than happy to give you a new chance. Otherwise, we’re both better off without it. It is your choice and I really want you to choose whatever you want.

        • bouchacha says:

          The author acknowledged on Reddit that not including bisexual men was a mistake and will correct it in the future. The gender asymmetry you mentioned is based on a reasonable interpretation of the best research we have available on LGBT demographics. As best as we can tell, women tend to be significantly more likely to consider themselves bisexual than men. This is in spite of the widely acknowledged phenomenon within the queer community of “bi invisibility”. It looks like the author made a decent effort at roughly approximating real world dynamics for this specific instance.

        • yusefsmith says:

          So the slavery and organ harvesting didn’t turn you off, but the lack of 100% purebred gays DID?

          • Shakes999 says:

            Everyone has something arbitrary they have to whine and fake indignation about.

      • the_moops says:

        I registered here because of how deeply disappointing I find your response. I purchased Rimworld on Steam a few months ago but would hesitate to support your work further if you continue to show an inability to tolerate criticism.

        You should be aware that there are some bugs in the relationship system in Alpha 15 that are already reported and fixed for Alpha 16. So you’re analyzing a broken system :/ Also, this system is just something slammed together to get the game working in a basic way. It’s just barely functional enough to fill its role. It’s never been intended as any kind of accurate or even reasonable simulation of the real thing.

        You claim that this is part of a work in progress, but go on to discuss how you believe that men being less likely to be bisexual is expressed in reality.

        Of course I’m sure bi/bi-curious men exist, but the research and what I’ve seen supports the conclusion that they’re rarer than bi women. Conversely, gay women seem to be rarer than gay men.

        Which is it? These two statements would seem to be contradictory: on one hand, you are dismissing criticism of your work in progress design as invalid because it’s a work in progress, but on the other, you are insisting that the design is grounded in reality.

        I can understand that it is difficult to be faced with criticism, but you are not serving yourself well by fighting with a writer who engaged with your simulation of human sexuality and found it wanting.

        You admit that you were given the chance to be interviewed for the article but declined. Now, you are trying to control the narrative by lashing back in the comments.

      • April March says:

        The fact that RPS didn’t reply is quite damning, I’ll admit, but asking that your interview is published unedited was, to put it bluntly, stupid. There are many ways you could go to request more control about your responses, including simply asking to see the article before publication. RPS might have denied even this, but you’d have a lot more of a leg to stand on.

        Seriously, requesting that an interview be published unedited shows that you know nothing about journalism. I might even argue that you know about as much about journalism as about sexuality… 👈😎👈)

        • Shakes999 says:

          Yeah, he wanted his unaltered side of the story on a obvious hit piece, what a moron!!!! Piss off.

      • Premium User Badge

        magogjack says:

        I feel like given the slant of this article it was perfectly reasonable of him to want his words to be HIS words as much as possible.

      • dgdg says:

        As someone who’s played around with procgen, I’m fairly certain that Tynan has overreacting somewhat, which I think is unfortunate. Objectively this article is right: Rimworlds code does create some fairly strict gender roles. Of course there is a chance that these roles will be breached, but the fact is that the gender roles are skewed heavily in one direction.

        Is this discrimination? Yes, indirectly. You cite real world data, but the critical flaw in this argument is that the real world contains sexism and this will impact the numbers you get out of it. Therefore, if you are basing a defense on the fact that you are modeling situations in the real world, you should be aware that really is an admission of permitting some form of sexism. I mean, suppose Rimworld at some point gets a criminal justice system. Would it be right to use real world data to determine the length of jail sentences for an offender? Because there’s some fairly compelling evidence of racism in sentencing, with (using racial terms loosely here) black people tending to get heavier punishments than other ethnic groups, especially white people. Would that be acceptable in Rimworld?

        More to the point, I think one sentence you have overlooked is right at the beginning: “but when it comes to sexuality, romance and gender, it tells variations on this one story far too often.” (emphasis mine) Regardless of whether or not the data is right, Rimworld has a problem: in one regard, it’s far, far too likely to tell a predictable story. I’ve seen this fairly often, and it becomes really noticeable in edge cases. For example, create a custom scenario where everyone is gay. The women hardly get any loving in comparison to the men.

        So leaving aside any accusations of sexism, which I suspect is more a case of not considering real world sexism, I think the most interesting point from a GameDev point of view is this: are these assumptions hurting RimWorld? And I would argue they are – they make aspects of the story predictable. However I’d also argue that having some characters being sexist is not necessarily bad either – the problem is the apparent uniformity and encoding of sexism in Rimworld.

        To elaborate on the point that having sexism in the game is not inherently bad: What would be fascinating, I think, is to encode these behaviors onto factions, rather than being a global one size fits all as is the case currently. This is simply because sexism is a cultural thing, under various terms. Hence you could have glitterworlders practicing true equality, patriarchal or matriarchal tribespeople, predominantly male or female pirate raiders who try to capture “attractive” colonists for their nefarious deeds… I’m not sure about what you think, but all these sound like much, much better stories than what is currently being spat out of Rimworld. And the clash of cultures in the ragtag group of colonists should make things particularly interesting. You could also have these behaviors doubly encoded onto personality traits, to allow for rebellious individuals who don’t uphold the predominant view in their faction.

        So to sum up: in terms of story generation, Sexism (or indeed other forms of discrimination) being present is not necessarily a bad thing. It can lead to interesting, and potentially relatable stories – although not ProcGen, consider the racist worldview in Mafia 3; at the very least, it’s different to almost every other game, and I think that’s a good thing. And of course, the only world we have direct experience of, the real world, is sexist, racist, ageist and ableist – bluntly, it’s a lie to assume that we have conquered any of these. However, when a form of discrimination is inadvertently encoded into a story generator, then there become problems purely in terms of the stories being generated – they become predictable – and even without any political or moral viewpoints, that’s an issue.

        • bouchacha says:

          Why do you think it shouldn’t reflect it?

          As an attorney that works in the criminal justice reform field, I would love to see more of this. I think the effect that fiction has on our understanding of the world is severely underestimated; especially when we have no other sources to provide clarification. If you ask people about William Wallace they’re more likely to mentally reference the movie Braveheart and the anachronistic theme of “freedom” instead of inconvenient narratives such as him maybe abandoning his troops at Falkirk. If games and other fiction more often referenced the very real factor of racism in criminal justice, not only would it be more interesting and realistic, but also could potentially encourage someone to look into the issue more instead of falsely assume it doesn’t exist.

          • dgdg says:

            I didn’t say that it should not reflect it – just using criminal justice as an example that real world data should not be used as a defense against accusations of discrimination. Until the real world has no discrimination, real world data will necessarily reflect the discrimination in the real world to an extent.

            I’d agree with you that it would be interesting to see a game that actual explores discrimination in criminal justice (in fact, I cited Mafia 3 which does touch upon this, with the varied attitudes of police). However, I think that to do the subject matter justice, it would probably have to be a somewhat more focused game than the more high level general stories that Rimworld generates. So maybe in a different game – Rimworld should probably try to stick to producing varied and unpredictable stories, and so I’d recommend it to try to avoid as much lock in as possible. Or at least, that’s my take on what Tynan wants it to be.

      • Dicehuge says:

        This…is a very unfortunate response. Calling pretty mild criticism hate farming clickbait undermines credibility far more than the article could have. Rimworld is a phenomenal game, but this kind of ‘here come the sjws with their pitchforks!’ juvenilia to an interesting and pretty reasonable article just creeps me out.

      • Hyena Grin says:

        “And personal observations: I’ve known some bi women and a large proportion of the nominally straight women I’ve known have discussed bi impulses or experiences they’ve had. In contrast, every bi man I’ve ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay. These patterns seem to apply even in very gay-friendly social contexts.”

        Hi there Ty. I love Rimworld, I bought it well before it was on Steam. I have played it a lot, and still do with each new release. I’m not angry, and I don’t think this article was a hit-piece. But I just want to address this one thing you said.

        See, I’m a bisexual male. I also have a degree in psychology, and at least part of my education involved the study of human sexuality. But like you, I’m also going to speak from experience, but with the caveat that I know how sampling works, and how self-report is unreliable. Also with the caveat that I cannot speak for the unique experiences of bisexual females.

        On the face of it, there are two complicating factors that bisexual people face. One is visibility, and the other is the cultural norm of monogamy.

        Visibility has always been a problem for the LGBT population. Being gay, or bi, or (in many situations) trans, is a concealed state. It is only visible when individuals choose to report it, and when society chooses to listen. Numbers have always been under-reported because there are and have always been clear reasons for individuals to not report their LGBT status. Though it would be unconscionable to dismiss the very real violence and harassment that gay women face, there is evidence that cultural reactions to gay men are somewhat worse, particularly among heterosexual men. There is a stronger social pressure, overall, for men to be straight. Or at least appear straight.

        Meanwhile, women are frequently socially rewarded for being ‘bi-curious,’ though that is by no means universal. There is no such social reward for men to experiment in the same way. It is still very much taboo.

        All of this has eased in recent decades, to varying extents obviously, but for bisexuals it is not straight forward.

        Bisexual people are essentially given a choice that hetero and gay people are not given; which is to engage in society in a hetero-normative way, without sacrificing their romantic fulfillment.

        As a bisexual male(not to exclude bisexual females), you are given two paths; one is relatively simple and largely devoid of social strife, and the other is fraught with social strife, and even actual, real physical danger. And both promise similar romantic fulfillment. Not to mention that, if you are first developing your sexuality, access to gay/bisexual men is frequently challenging and even scary to achieve, thanks again to social pressures.

        So it’s not a surprise that many bisexual men err on the side of pursuing heterosexual romance, and in the absence of the freedom to experiment or a connection to LGBT culture, and because sexual identity is more complex than merely knowing with certainty who you are, many people may end up in exclusively heterosexual relationships without even seriously considering their sexuality. There is no advantage to being in a heterosexual relationship and identifying as bisexual, and so it trends toward not happening.

        Add on top of that the complication of monogamy, and you end up with answers like the one you gave. That virtually all bisexual men are really just gay men in transition between straight and gay. That simply isn’t true. Monogamy means that there isn’t a (legal, at least, but also typically not even subjectively satisfying) way for bisexual people to maintain a relationship status that reflects their sexual status.

        If a bisexual male marries a man, does that make them gay? No.
        If a bisexual male marries a woman, does that make them straight? No.

        It means that at the end of the day, that bisexual person married the person they fell in love with, and that person happened to have a specific gender. The reasons they fell in love with that person could be complicated, and they almost certainly were the result of social pressures, be it hetero-normative social pressures, or even the LGBT community itself, which has its own history of bi-erasure.

        Bisexual men exist. I am a male, happily married to another male that I have been with for over ten years (thanks supreme court). And heck yeah I still find women sexually attractive, in fact in most situations *coughporncough* I lean that way. I am not ‘actually gay’ just because of who I married.

        I’m a bi male, and I exist, and your personal experience doesn’t trump my existence. ;)

        Thanks for reading, if you find this amongst all the other responses.

      • Amake says:

        Well, here was your chance to give all those answers unedited, and you spent it instead talking about what you could have said if you wanted to. That sounds to me like someone not wanting to admit he doesn’t have any good answers. Maybe even beginning to realize he has made mistakes, such as trying to build a full and nuanced human society based only on the stereotypes his very limited experiences with human society has observed.

        But that’s fine. You can fix it with more careful research. As long as pride or ego or anger or the fear of being wrong doesn’t get in your way.

      • Neutrino says:

        Good reply, but don’t be too hard on yourself. The proliferation of these virtue signalling morality facists, with their inability to respectfully disagree with someone and need to portray anyone who doesn’t have the same views as they do as some kind of hateful immoral monster is enough to make any reasonable person lose their rag in despair at the suppression of intelligent discourse in modern society.

      • Bishop149 says:

        Thank you for your direct response, useful to have a counterpoint

        It appears that you are attempting to model the sexuality / attractiveness systems based upon real social science research upon such things in Western society. I would suggest this is perhaps a mistake. Such research is almost always flawed and contains inherent cultural bias. It is also quite simply not possible to gain any kind of absolute results on such a topic, there will always be outliers, often quite substantial ones. You can dismiss such outliers with statistics but in this case the outliers are people. . . . you will be dismissing people with such an approach. This understandably might annoy them.

        Seeing as the setting of Rimworld is not “real” there really is no requirement to model it in such a way. I would suggest instead that you set the system up as you might like such things to work rather than how they may actually work.
        Perhaps the following would be good starting points
        – Men and women are essentially more equal than not.
        – People tend not to behave like utter dicks to each other on the basis of sexual attractions.
        Perhaps not “realistic” but surely more desirable.

      • Celebrochan says:

        What has rock paper shotgun come to?

      • adammtlx says:

        Hey Tynan, glad you responded. RPS usually does a good job but they fucked this one up, and I’m glad you called them out. I used to be an “insider” subscriber to RPS but stopped paying them when they started to let more and more of this shit slip by.

        I may not personally agree with all your assumptions and conclusions about gender and sexual orientation, but I see nothing blatantly offensive or awful about any of them and it is your game to do with as you please, and I respect that. I also think your game is great, and I was glad to pay full price for it a couple months ago. Keep up the good work, and ignore the armchair activists who think they’re doing their woke deed for the month by boycotting your game based on this silly, one-sided article.

      • Rellen says:

        I was interested in this game, even this article had me considering playing it. Now that I’ve seen this irrationally angry response and lashing out from you, I don’t think I can conscionably support your work.

      • Merlin the tuna says:

        I’m completely flabbergasted that you thought this response was a good idea, Tynan. To call this a hit piece is ridiculous; it’s valuable tutorial & strategy information as much as it is an editorial. But where the algorithm raises some uncomfortable question marks, every part of your response – not simply the tone – slams it home in giant exclamation marks.

        • ryth says:

          Yep. Took a genuine opportunity to have a good discussion and make his game better, turned in into a burning dumpster fire confirming anyone who cares about such things fears.

      • dasquish says:

        This is never going to get read this far down, but I wanted to say thanks for at least putting some thought into relationships and sexuality. I’d give the guys a chance at being bi, and maybe do something about the poor lesbians being constantly hit on by dumb guys who can’t take a hint. I’ll grab a couple of gift copies to make up for some of the haters. Great game, still enjoying it!

      • Daemoroth says:

        Well-reasoned response, a bit defensive, but you’ve already addressed that so I’m not gonna carry on down that line.

        Learn from this: Don’t even *attempt* to represent anything but the most common ‘status quo’ – make all genders straight, and this article would never even have happened (Ironic, isn’t it).

        It’s sad, and I’ve lost a ton of respect for RPS and will certainly avoid Lo’s articles in the future.

    • Niko says:

      Don’t see any torches and pitchforks in the article.

      • Regicider 12.4% says:

        “How RimWorld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles”, it’s catnip power words for the polar outrage mafiosi camps.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          It’s a title that describes what the article is about. You seem to be under the impression that the phrase “Gender Roles” exists for the sole purpose of drawing page clicks.

          • Daemoroth says:

            Here’s a better, non-inflammatory one: “How RimWorld Approaches Relationships and Sexuality”.

        • pepperfez says:

          polar outrage mafiosi camps

          I…what.

  8. bramble says:

    This is an interesting article, but I’m surprised and disappointed that the developer wasn’t interviewed, or even attempted to be reached for comment. If we’re talking about the social and moral implications of an artificial, designed system, why wouldn’t you talk to the designer?

    • Ghostwise says:

      When you analyse a text — in this case, code — authorial intent is frequently out of scope.

      • Sargonite says:

        Yup. Most players playing the game (or watching the movie, etc.) won’t have the developer sitting there to interpret the experience for them – they only have the experience itself.

    • shde2e says:

      They did, but he demanded they give him editorial power over the article, which they refused as it goes against their general policies.

  9. Faxanadu says:

    Hmm, but don’t men hit on women more often than the other way around, in real life?

    • Gormongous says:

      The game takes place in the year 5500. Is it really that important to reflect “real life” from 2016 in its systems, especially since a lot of these design choices are more 1956 than 2016?

      • Scelous says:

        Yes. Human behavior is pretty consistent.

        • Premium User Badge

          modzero says:

          …which is why only men wear high heels, pink is a boy color, and families in Silesia are all ruled by women.

          • Gormongous says:

            Don’t forget, women are sexually voracious! Ancient Greek myths include the blind prophet Tiresias saying that women get ten times the pleasure from sex than men do. This is reflected in pottery that’s been excavated, where there are examples of men asking women to hold still and be quiet because their enjoyment is distracting.

      • Faxanadu says:

        But… Isn’t that what this complaint is all about?

        I mean, how can you call it sexist and whatnot if you’re NOT seeing it in the light of modern values?

        • Gormongous says:

          I think you’re confused. The game was made in the 2010s, true, but the fiction of it is set in the 5500s. The justification for a gender-biased system should be situated in the context of the game’s fiction, not the game itself.

          As another example, if I’m Hilary Mantel and I’m writing a novel about Tudor England, it’s important for me to situate my social and political ideas within the context of Tudor England, whatever the contemporary reasons I have for writing that novel. Otherwise, what is the point of having a physically or temporally removed setting at all?

          • PancakeWizard says:

            Except that your example would be creating something in a historical context, and Rimworld, being sci-fi, doesn’t have to conform to any such thing. The developer can imagine whatever future they want, and if they happen to imagine a future where the gender roles are thus, then who are we to argue? Simply imagining them so isn’t the same as endorsing them.

      • balbkubrox says:

        It would be far simpler for the dev to simply have made gender be completely meaningless in the game.

        Faster than Light was a sci-fi game where gender of crewmen made absolutely no difference to any gameplay mechanic. Do you remember all the rave reviews about FTLs progressive approach to gender?

        The whole “in the future people will have evolved past caring about gender” trope is not one that needs encouragement, because it takes no effort and it says nothing.

        Are we saying that all devs should be discouraged from trying to model sex/gender into actual game dynamics? Because it seems like it when rather than having an actual discussion about what might make interesting mechanics, and about the role of art in depicting stereotypes as a way of analysis vs reinforcing those stereotypes, we immediately jump on any devs head with accusations implications of sexism and frame it as a fault they need to correct rather than a game with rich potential for improvement. “Hey, I’m not saying that this dev is deliberately/accidentally sexist, I’m just going to frame it as an equally likely possibility as any possible positive interpretation, or even a neutral one like badly rushed code”

        • April March says:

          Saying that gender doesn’t matter is a lazy and cheap answer to sexism, but it’s an answer. It has its uses, much like the rainbow coalition of ethnicities you see often in 90’s shows.

          However, if a dev tries to do something, and people perceive it as bad, then people sure as hell should speak up about it. Are you suggesting that we should only discuss these in a positive light? Or that one should pat the dev in the head and thank him for trying even if one finds the output terrible? Under your logic, if his game did have only men able to fight and only women able to cook, this discussion would still be damning, because at least he tried, right?

          Also, just a reminder that two different forks on gender behavior, on two different sets of behaviour, would be impossible to describe as ‘badly rushed code’ even if the author hadn’t come around to defend it.

    • carewolf says:

      No, that is just how it is perceived by most men, but it is not how women see it.

      The explaination for the difference is that women tend to all hit on the same guy.

  10. frightlever says:

    Good article. I love Rimworld and suspect this is just a naive man’s attempt to model what his vision of the world is, but it really needs looked at.

    Worth noting, perhaps, there don’t appear to be any one night stands or brief hook-ups.

    Also, if your colony is predominantly of one sex, people are going to compromise their first choices. Sexuality is a spectrum, it isn’t black and white. It’s why you get so-called “situational homosexuality” in prison and at sea in the times of sail when voyages were a lot longer.

    • April March says:

      Yeah, that’s how it is. It’s clearly not built out of rage or mistrust. It’s one man, who’s obsessed with behaviour (to the point of making a game mostly about it) and finding a few sources that confirms his biases.

      It’s curious that you mention situational homosexuality, yet the game explicitly forbids it. It also makes me curious about the extent to which it might actually happen in the setting of the game…

      • nearly says:

        I always found it really compelling that, after a certain point in the future, society becomes primarily homosexual in Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, mostly as a means of limiting population size. It’s such a strong cultural imperative that it basically flips to the opposite side of the pendulum where heterosexual people are seen as sickening deviants and potentially ruinous for the surival of the species.

        Most research does suggest that sexuality happens more on a spectrum, as evidenced by the fairly common situational same-sex encounters from people that would never identify as homosexual or even bisexual.

        Another big example would be the Mormon church: apparently, male-male hook-ups via Craigslist in Utah are weirdly segregated because Mormons will only have same-sex intercourse with each other–otherwise, it’s unacceptable. Culturally, and especially in the US, most people are a bit weird about sex.

  11. Scelous says:

    The only one I notice a real problem with is no bisexual men, no straight women. Other than that, I think the code mirrors real life, ESPECIALLY about men trying to start a romance eight times more than women. Good god, is that accurate. I have asked out a hell of a lot more women than women have asked me out – oh, there are exceptions, but I bet if you ask couples you know who initiated things, it is usually the man. And, by the way, it’s not like I endorse that – it actually enrages me. But women refuse to step up to the plate.

    Also, women generally prefer older guys (I’m not talking Hugh Hefner old) and men generally prefer younger women (again, I’m not talking about just turned 18). Look at “age disparity in sexual relationships” on Wikipedia as an example. I don’t think Rimworld should cater to Gender Studies college students; I would prefer it be more accurate to the real world and human behavior that is readily observable.

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      subdog says:

      Holy crap.

      • DoubleG says:

        Right? I feel like this comment was made by a talking fedora.

      • bouchacha says:

        I’m confused by the (vague) incredulousness; which statements do you object to?

    • Orillion says:

      Yeah, the only problem here is the hard cutoff. There’s definitely way fewer bisexual men than there are women (LUG and all that) but there are some. Likewise, there are definitely fewer men who would start a relationship with a woman more than 15 years older than them, but I’m living proof that it happens. The system just needs a little tweaking to allow “rare” pairings to at least happen.

      What DOES need serious scrutiny is the material RPS is willing to publish in the name of “social justice.” This is the most passive-aggressive witchhunt I’ve seen called for, especially since it doesn’t even look like they tried to reach the developer for comment.

      Edit: Developer response above. I’m… not happy with RPS right now.

      • gi_ty says:

        I couldn’t agree more with you, I have never read an article here relating to these kinds of issues that was so one sided and amateur.

        • VampireCactus says:

          This article goes so far as to cite the ACTUAL SOURCE code of the game, lays it out plainly, and makes the glaringly obvious comparison to social norms, and it’s one-sided and amateur? I think you’re confusing “one sided and amateur” with “challenges my beliefs and makes me uncomfortable”.

          • gi_ty says:

            This in no way challenges my beliefs or views in any way. I agree with its intent at critique. I just think it was done poorly and without respect to obvious challenges and expectations of development and was needlessly incendiary in its approach.
            You seem to be the one offended and eager to defended needlessly inflammatory articles on the basis that they align with your personal views.

      • VampireCactus says:

        Seriously, you read that crazy rant from the dev that basically confirms everything the article stated and THEN SOME, and RPS is who you’re not happy with right now? Yikes, dude.

        • Flatley says:

          The fact that you’d characterize his response as a “crazy rant” demonstrates the extent to which your judgement is compromised here.

          • LosbterBox says:

            Did you actually read it? It’s pretty awful. Dude has some really gross opinions are alternates between claiming the author is lying and claiming that everything in the code reflects reality 100%.

          • lise42 says:

            It starts off by calling this article an anger farming hit piece as the very first thing. If that’s not a rant, with the immediate goal of turning off all the readers, then what is?

      • carewolf says:

        Also a lot of women who are attracted men younger than them. The 3-year younger cut-off seems to be modeling early 20s women. The cougar trope exists for a reason, and -+5 years means nothing to 30+ year old.

      • pepperfez says:

        I notice you put “social justice” in quotes. Who are you quoting?

    • Muzman says:

      It ain’t a bell curve without the pointy bits on the side. That would be factual accuracy, not some purported gender studies revisionism.

    • ryth says:

      lol! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • lise42 says:

      Yeah? Well as a straight woman I’m worried and annoyed by the only options for women in this game being gay or bisexual. Just a data point for you, straight women exist :P And they’re not bicurious or bisexual because they find it boring not because they’re insecure.

  12. gi_ty says:

    I just find this whole piece absurd. As the author points out coding in interesting accurate representations of relationships is difficult/impossible. You have to start with some kind of basis, to create both endearing and reprehensible traits. This is necessary for entertaining stories. It also has to be balanced around usability (one reason I imagine only one party gets a mood debuff for rejected advances). In statistical terms especially in Canada (which is where the developer is from) I am sure it is much less likely for a female to initiate romantic advances. This is not his personal critique on society merely an interesting comprehensible model on which to base a very basic system. I don’t think you raise any worthwhile points in this piece that, are a good argument against the broad generalization that were used to construct this system.
    While this system obviously doesn’t fit with the authors personal perception there are a few things to remember before we break out the pitchforks:
    1. Additional variables are sure to be added when they can be balanced appropriately to provide for fun stories.
    2. Basing the initial system on societal norms of the developer is perfectly reasonable.
    3. A system that doesn’t make for stereotypes or somewhat predictable behavior of characters would be time intensive for the developer and would likely be wildly imbalanced making the game more brutal than it already can be.

    • Person of Interest says:

      Thanks for writing a thoughtful, hyperbole-free critique of the article. I hope the developer Ty reads this comment and learns from it.

      I disagree that this article is amateur or one-sided. Most of the words are spent dryly explaining the relationship code. I think Claudia Lo, the article author, is free to explain why she thinks the code does not reflect how relationships work (I share her opinion), just as Ty is free to make a game that approximates his understanding of relationships, and has no obligation to rewrite it to be more “PC”.

      I also hope Ty sees frightlever’s comment and does some more research in that direction. I think RimWorld could be a richer game if its relationship modeling hews closer to situational sexual behavior than OKCupid’s dating trends.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      This is an excellent comment.

      It’s extremely unlikely that any game could effectively model the full spectrum of human relationships and sexuality. Any attempt to even approximate it will by necessity be a simplification. The behaviours and relationships that make the cut aren’t “assumptions” that carry any sort of political message, they are highly-visible trends that are easily recognizable to members of the author’s society and/or target audience. In other words, they aren’t meant to be a museum of sexuality, they’re intended to provide a semblance of domestic life to a simulation with a much broader scope.

    • April March says:

      I agree that coding relationships that are simultaneously realistic, interesting and readable is impossible. But, if one were to start with a blank slate that considered genders equal, and then move on from there, I doubt it would reach a state such as this, especially if the dev were listening in to input from the audience. (How many people do you think will complain that bisexual men don’t exist, versus people complaining that women seem to start relationships about as often as men?)

  13. Muzman says:

    Fascinating stuff. I wonder how complex it’ll be able to get. Using familiar tropes makes a certain amount of sense in the basic building of things I suppose. But the setting messes that up by itself, never mind the limited nature of it. So one thing that I think would change a whole lot of factors is the isolation these characters are often faced with.
    You could take the relationship functions and just wrap them in a big loneliness modifier for every factor for starters. That’d make things a lot more interesting (if crudely done, philosophically speaking. But it’s just the code)

  14. InfiniteSubset says:

    While I totally agree that it is unfortunate that these rules are so stereotypical, it is important to keep in mind that nobody remembers the game where the people who were compatible got together and everybody got along. Mismatched mechanics (like one way attraction) makes for a much more memorable and entertaining experience. Are you going to remember the beautiful gay woman that everybody fell in love with who could never find anyone? Or the gay woman who nobody liked that much because they weren’t compatible with her.

    Now, that isn’t to say the mechanics need to match these stereotypes like this, optimally every pawn had different values in many of these spots, which are based on some random chances or something (Suzie like younger men, Sally like older women, etc), but that is a lot of extra work compared to some preset values.

    Features like “being repeatedly hit on decreases your mood” also sound good, but not only is that more work, some people in some situations, love that kind of attention so pretty soon that is another personality characteristic you are generating.

    Like most things in games (and programming in general) it can quickly turn into such a rabbit hole that you have to do something, and maybe come back to it later (someday).

    It would be good to see some proposals for what others think the rules should be. It’s not easy to come up with some that are both interesting and non-stereotyping, other than silly things like just swapping male and female in the existing setup.

  15. Grendael says:

    Without comment from Ty I think this sentence is very irresponsible.

    It’s that it’s flawed in a way that perfectly mirrors existing sexist expectations of romance, with such specificity that it is hard to view it as unintentional

    • ChallengeAnneka says:

      And with comment from him, it turns out it’s entirely accurate.

  16. dystome says:

    Why does the source code come with the game download?

    It doesn’t seem to be explicitly open-source. For-profit game developers would usually want to avoid sharing their code for fear that other people will steal bits of it. Also it makes the download bigger for zero benefit to most users…

    • onodera says:

      The game doesn’t come bundled with its source code. It’s shipped in an intermediate representation that is compiled on the fly when you run it, because that’s how the dev’s chosen language works. It is also possible to automatically translate this representation to human-readable program code which is functionally equivalent to the original code.

    • claudia.lo says:

      I actually followed the decompilation instructions found on the RimWorld wiki. Look, in the source code, for “Pawn_RelationsTracker” and “InteractionWorker_RomanceAttempt”.

      • dystome says:

        Oh, hi there. Well, I suspect I’m going to start following discussions on how all sorts of stuff works in C# games, then. My free time glands ache already. Thanks for the link.

  17. Kodiak343 says:

    >>”Setting aside the truth of those stories[…]”

    This really sets the mood for the entire article; it feels like those politicians who go “I’m not SAYING that green monsters exist, I’m just asking the question”.
    “I’m not saying this is not all true and correct, but I still want to find a problem with it”.

    It’s a tremendously weak excuse and escape for somebody who is pretending to engage in meaningful conversation, while clearly accomplishing tremendous damage to the publisher, as you can see through the comments.

    I have rarely seen a more intent, clear, and most of all effective “DO NOT BUY!” from RockPaperShotgun than this article, and I really really do not believe RimWorld deserved it. Considering it’s not its focus, it does Romance, Sexuality and Gender roles so much better than any non-relationship-simulator; it does not reflect the real world in all of its complexity and granularity, but dear gawd, its asymptotically better than the likes of Mass Effect etc. And yet, instead of giving credit for the limited progress MADE, they get unbelievably lambasted for what progress still remains, in a focused and hostile fashion that shocks me.

    [And yes, I read the article, and no, I’m not a redneck conservative – I’m as leftist liberal as it gets, and certainly when it comes to sexuality 0;-> ]

    • Faxanadu says:

      Hear, hear!

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Get real. RPS published a number of positive previews and playthrough diaries of Riworld already, why would they want to follow it up with a ‘do not buy?’ now? This article is a discussion and critique of a certain aspect of the game, not a wholesale condemnation, and most definitely not a ‘hitpiece’.

      • Neutrino says:

        Except that the author explicitly calls it out as intentionally sexist, which is tantamount to calling the developer a hateful bigot. Knowing how eager morality facists are to jump on any bandwagon of outrage you just don’t say something like that by accident. Which is why those trying to claim that this isn’t a hit piece are in denial.

    • Muzman says:

      “I have rarely seen a more intent, clear, and most of all effective “DO NOT BUY!” from RockPaperShotgun than this article,”

      Clearly you actually mean “encoded, implied, dog whistle I interpreted” or something similar because it doesn’t say this at all and if it did, it does not do it “clearly” in any sense of the word.
      Seriously Mr Liberal, have you been so poisoned by rampant internet stupidity of these recent years to become so reactionary to a fairly mild article? Come now.

      • Kodiak343 says:

        Muzman – I’ve played 150 hours in Rimworld with no sign of stopping. My point was that half the comments are indicating “well then, I’m not buying this game now that I’ve read this” – it’s easy enough to verify before replying to my post.
        My point is that while I do not believe that was the intention, that was in fact the effect. Having been following the site for years, I don’t think I’ve seen many articles which have had a quicker set of “Thanks, I won’t be buying it then” responses than this one.

        • April March says:

          Is it perhaps possible that the reason these people do not want to buy this game not because an article tells them so, but because of a choice by the developer that this article brings to light?

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            Exactly. Articles that make a person not want to buy a game because of resolution options are fine but articles like this aren’t? 90% of what a game site does it make people not want to buy a game.

          • Hyena Grin says:

            This confuses me quite a lot.

            The article presents some actual code from the actual game, breaks down what that means, and suggests that this might be a poor representation, deliberate or not. It vaguely hints at Ty incorporating biases into his design (which he basically confirmed in a response), but stops short of being explicit.

            If drawing attention to a real thing in a game, and that information changes people’s minds about whether or not to purchase a game, then I just don’t see what is objectionable about that.

            People have a right to purchase or not purchase games for basically whatever reason they want. Obviously if gender/sexual-preference is important to them, they have a right to make their purchasing decision based on accurate information provided by game journalists.

            Why do some people not want people who have different priorities and preferences to have accurate articles that could inform their purchasing decisions?

            Why

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Excellent post.

  18. nicknamesaretoohard says:

    Beside the point that reverse engineering the code was probably illegal in some way but at least very, very shady (This is still a for-profit website, isn’t it?). It is also ridiculous and click-baity to make those kinds of assumptions about unfinished software – especially when it deals with a rather complex problem like relationships. Because modeling that kind of topic into numbers as they are needed by a computer is definitely more than “fairly complex” – because, well, humans are more than “fairly complex”.
    I tried to build a people simulator myself once. I spent countless hours trying to get close to something resembling reality and still when I plotted the numbers over thousands of relationships everything was just _wrong_. Making assumptions to simplify code is business as usual. Anybody tries to tell you differently is lying to you and wants to push an agenda (Like this piece).
    Anybody “pruning” their wishlist because of something like this obviously never had contact with software development or real-world problem modeling.
    It is not their fault.
    It is the fault of the author who seems to have at least some insight to software development and should know better.
    RPS should know better.

    • Niko says:

      Your points about this being an in-dev game and simplifying the code has been touched upon in the article actually. It’s not about what it could be, it’s about what’s already there – and what is says. There could be different ways to simplify the code, and author chose some specific algorithms.

    • Premium User Badge

      DantronLesotho says:

      Claudia didn’t illegally reverse engineer the code, there are decompilation instructions on the Rimworld website, which Claudia mentions in an earlier comment.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        There’s a distinction between crafting a free mod for the game and leveraging the source code to create a for-profit article.

        While I don’t expect Ty to do anything about it in that aspect, this is definitely a lot more gray area than you seem to think.

    • Person of Interest says:

      As someone who claims to be an authority on software development, you should know better than to suggest that it’s at all shady to analyze executable code. That’s how many mod developers do what they do, after all.

      If you want to be consistent, you can try to shame RPS for promoting illegal activity by publishing “best mods for Game X” lists.

  19. Silverchain says:

    Uninstalled and hidden from Steam library.

    If I’d only read the article I’d’ve waited to see what happened next, but the tone of the developer’s comments upthread leaves me cold.

    An unusual caveat to add to the list against Early Access.

    • rodan32 says:

      I’d say give Ty a bit of a break here. He was clearly upset, and the tone in his comment shows that. This is a really solid game, one that RPS has praised, and I think we ought to be supportive of these sorts of labors of love. RPS has called out something they see as a pretty serious flaw; Ty may disagree, but I expect that future versions will have a much more realistic relationship system.

      We make people into monsters way too often these days. If you’re in the US (like I am), I’ll give you a break for this because one of the two biggest jackasses in history will soon be our fearless leader. But the article doesn’t think Ty’s a monster. It seems like this is something that genuinely bothers Claudia, and she’s called it out. If this conversation was happening in person, I think people would be a lot more gracious with each other. Out in the interwebs, it’s really easy to say Ty’s just a dirty sexist who also eats puppies.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        I agree, Ty’s comments became more reasonable the later his posts were.

        I still disagree with his notion that bisexual men do not exist (and will not in the 3k years in the future the game takes place in) but it is his game.

        What’s important is this article started the discussion in the first place. Maybe Ty will change his code in the future based on the response? At the very least I suspect a mod author is working on this right now.

        • bouchacha says:

          Yes, Ty has acknowledged on Reddit that not including bisexual men was a mistake and he will fix that error in the future.

      • Massenstein says:

        This was a good comment and a good point. Always welcome in polarized discussions when someone calls for calm and for opposing sides to consider each others points. I admit I too reacted hotly to what the article brought up and also to the developer’s response, but your comment and some others of similar tone helped remind me civilized discussion is the best way to deal with matters.

      • Neutrino says:

        In fairness the article does call the game intentionally sexist and states that that’s a serious problem. In this day and age that’s tantamount to calling the dev a hateful bigot so it’s hardly surprising he’s upset.

        I don’t understand how those of you defending this article are overlooking this so readily.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      You should also consider buying the physical collectors edition, t-shirt, poster and handpainted figurine and incinerating it all in a bonfire.

  20. asret says:

    This article is quite a disappointment. What could have been an interesting discussion on relationships in video games comes across as a hit piece instead.

    The author lambasts the developer for his narrow worldview not matching her narrow worldview.

    At least his is a work in progress.

    • Niko says:

      Did you read it.

      • pepperfez says:

        Why would he subject himself to reading such a load of cultural marxist trash?

    • ryth says:

      I feel like maybe you didn’t actually read the article, and if you did it seems pretty obvious you didn’t grasp the spirit it seems to have been composed in.

      • asret says:

        It’s quite possible I’ve misunderstood the intent of the author. I get the impression that the developer is trying to model the world around us (imperfectly), and the author is critiquing this for being sexist and incomplete.

        The penultimate paragraph hints at a far more interesting article than the one that’s here.

  21. Niko says:

    I don’t quite get why there are such rigid limitations – wouldn’t expanding those brackets allow for more interesting/hilarious situations?

    • OctoVine says:

      >I don’t quite get why there are such rigid limitations – wouldn’t expanding those brackets allow for more interesting/hilarious situations?

      Yeah! That’s my first thought too.

  22. robotslave says:

    A bit of devils advocating:

    1) in a computer simulation things are going to be more, well, binary than they are in the thing being simulated.

    Trying to build a fluid gender preference system where each simulated person’s proclivities are represented by a dynamic probability distribution curve would be really complex. This is is a video game, not a statistical model for government policy or scientific research. As hilarious as it might be to have a colonist refusing one day to even accept the other colonist’s pronouns, and then the next day settling into a hypernormative family structure, would it be worth the time cost of designing, coding, and testing it, plus the maintenance/extensibility cost incurred with the extra complexity?

    2) The choice to represent bisexuality only in women may have been data-driven (by data later found to be bad, but still data-driven).

    Many studies in the US have found that more women (around 6%) than men (around 2%) self-identify as bisexual.

    More problematically, there was a study done in 2005 at Northwestern that showed that men who self-identified as bisexual were aroused only by imagery of other men, while women identifying as bisexual were aroused by imagery of both men and women.

    That same Northwestern research team repudiated this result in later studies with better participant selection, finding that both male and female self-identified bisexuals were aroused by both men and women, but sadly these results didn’t get anywhere near the same publicity. It’s not unlikely that the game’s programmer coded the simulation when the results of the 2005 were in the headlines, or at least at the top of the search results.

    3) It might be worth remembering that this game, like its forebears, is a disaster simulator.

    A lot of what people seem to like about it is that it generates stories rooted in the worst aspects of human behavior, not the best. That being the case, perhaps the direction the developer should take is to tweak the romance simulation to generate even worse behaviors, to further exacerbate tensions, to make personalities even more cartoonish and adversarial. And to make it very clear that this is all entirely deliberate, of course.

    …aaaaand now I’ve set myself up to be tarred as an apologist for the MRA shitheels, which really, Jesus, no. But that’s my problem, I guess; nobody forced me to type any of that.

    • MrUnimport says:

      >…aaaaand now I’ve set myself up to be tarred as an apologist for the MRA shitheels, which really, Jesus, no. But that’s my problem, I guess; nobody forced me to type any of that.

      One of the most unpleasant parts of living in 2016 is being attributed to one extreme camp or the other, no matter what you say. Well-intentioned disagreement can easily be written off as insincere concern trolling, no matter which side of the debate you’re addressing.

      • LuciusAnnaeus says:

        yeah I very much agree with that statement – when every criticism no matter how mild immediately is understood as “bringing out the pitchforks”, or concern trolling, it becomes very hard to have an actual conversation

    • Premium User Badge

      modzero says:

      A bit of devils advocating:

      I wish there was a browser extension that automatically blocks any comment on any site that starts with that sentence.

      • robotslave says:

        There is a brain extension that can do it for you. It can also filter out loads of other things based on the same kind of simple phrase-matching, for the sort of user who wants to set it up that way.

      • April March says:

        Eh, don’t do it. Devil’s advocating is great. If you can’t argue your point against someone who agrees with it and is just pretending not to, do you really believe in it?

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        What you perhaps need is comment snob. It is set up more for things like removing comments above a mis-spelling threshold, or which have excessive punctuation, but you can give it custom phrases to remove too. I reckon “slap in the face” would be a good phrase to exclude in Kickstarter comments for example…

      • hungrycookpot says:

        For sure, never having to hear things you disagree with is great, it means you’re right 100% of the time!

    • Zarathruster says:

      Blah, the lovely comment system devoured my response and I don’t have the heart to type it up again. I wanted to respond to your first point and say that it’s not terribly difficult to implement a probabilistic model of behavior, rather than a naive fixed-probability one. You can do stuff like that even in the introductory lesson in this (awesome!) course.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Ah! Devil’s advocating! Excellent, allow me to partake in this argument.

      1) When designing a game based around behavior and relationships, choosing a more binary design is inherently lazy. This is doubly so given that the attraction code modeled above is both asymmetrical and non-binary. An opposing, scalable model wouldn’t be difficult to devise, when you can randomly assign values to various characteristics, then apply a social template from the parent faction (with resulting positive/negative mood modifiers from matching/resisting/not conforming to social norms). The results would be more interesting and tell better stories, while better representing reality (self-reporting vs actual tendencies in psychology). Would it require more testing? Perhaps, but such testing can be done live, with the results leading to the same great stories generated by Dwarf Fortress.

      2) This point has already been borne out by the developer’s comments above. It’s worth pointing out that even good data, interpreted improperly by people who do not know how to read it, can yield inaccurate results. Shallow reading is not sufficient.

      3) As a disaster simulator, more complex relationships would actually be more necessary. As mentioned upthread, situational homosexuality is a frequent trend in these situations, as relationship strains can lead to people making less desirable choices in partners while under duress. The developer’s code does not account for this.

      So yes, the developer could have done a much better job of social modeling in Rimworld. More troubling, I feel, has been the general reaction of such critique as being a “hit piece,” given RPS generally recommending the game over the past few months.

  23. ryth says:

    First off, commendations on a very interesting article! It is disappointing that the game exists like this currently, but I think you offered an excellent open door for discussion.

    Unfortunately, it appears that Ty above would rather turn this into some nuclear war sort of event and overreact in an extremely unprofessional and combative way rather than engaging in dialogue.

    To classify this article as link-bait, anger farming, and a hit piece is absurd.

    I was looking forward to purchasing this title but will now remove it from my wish list. Hopefully the developer will look back at this as a learning opportunity and engage with folks who might actually be able to help him develop a deeper and better game instead of going off on them. At that point I’d be happy to come back and give it a try, as I’m sure many others would.

  24. HueyLewisFan says:

    An article like this absolutely requires the developers insight/reasoning behind the code, in SOME form. It’s an excellent article, and so uniquely 2016 in it’s “inferred political/social implications of code” that I’d love to hear more about this but leaving the developer/subject of the article in the dust because he didn’t want his remarks edited doesn’t seem like a strong reason to drop him off in the comments section. Tynan has been pretty in-depth in his previous systems, so I doubt he just let his personal beliefs replace the need for data in this scenario. His information may have been garbage or bad, but that needs to be something we can confirm and not assume.

    Also should note that there’s been TONS of love for this game coming from the RPS, so I think we can safely assume there isn’t malicious intent from EITHER side here. The benefit of the doubt is a valuable negotiation tool in a situation like this, in my opinion.

    • LosbterBox says:

      Did you see his meltdown in the comments? It’s absolutely not normal or proper for the interviewee to have editorial control over the interview.

      • MrUnimport says:

        I agree that it’s an unrealistic expectation, but I can definitely see how an article like this would put someone on the defensive and make them extremely wary of being made out to be the villain through selective quoting.

        • colw00t says:

          I should think that if you’re afraid you’ll be made out as a villain based on an interview about code you wrote, you might want to take a closer look at that code.

      • rodan32 says:

        I don’t know that he wanted “editorial control”; he was just worried about being misunderstood, which I think is fair. I don’t think RPS was out to get him; I think Claudia genuinely felt this was a concern that needed to be called out. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, but I thought the article was interesting, anyway. Rimworld is a great game, RPS is a great site, let’s be friends.

        • Person of Interest says:

          Outrageous! Inexcusable! You’re headed straight for the blocklist, sir, what with those incendiary, agenda-pushing, dog-whistling mentions of friendship and greatness.

          I will also be refunding you on Steam, just so you know.

  25. MrUnimport says:

    It seems inappropriate to me to label a game and its developer politically undesirable (bordering on culture enemy) based on a strong reading of its elementary romance mechanics. Gender asymmetry in social situations is an unpleasant fact of life as we experience it, and I think it’s a mistake to presume that the developer’s modelling of that asymmetry is an endorsement of it.

    I want to make it clear that I think it’s an interesting and thoughtful idea for an article, talking about unspoken implications in computer game modelling of social issues, but from all the wishlist-pruning in the comments here it seems like the effect (perhaps intended) was to encourage a boycott of a harmful product.

    • LosbterBox says:

      Those dev comments though, they really say a hell of a lot more than anything that the code does

      • MrUnimport says:

        It’s absolutely one’s right to draw conclusions about the developer based on the content of his own comments. I have no problem with that whatsoever.

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      If Ty had just said “It’s designed that way as social commentary on gender role asymmetry etc etc..” he would’ve been applauded.
      Exactly the same code, no drama, PR spin.

    • pepperfez says:

      politically undesirable (bordering on culture enemy)
      This kind of language is totally bonkers in this context. Nobody’s planning purges or compiling blacklists or whatever this is meant to suggest.

  26. CartonofMilk says:

    I just think the people who are shitlisting this game for this are being very silly (and depriving themselves of a great gaming experience) because i can assure you if you could firsthand learn about the politics and moral values of every person involved in the making of (and profiting from) every game out there you’d be left with no game to ever buy. You could push it even further you know, why isn’t the game allowing me to change the gender of my colonists? Why isn’t it allowing me to have open relationships? or relationships involving more than two people?

    Personally i don’t find myself agreeing with some of the stuff Ty said in the comments and i think he’s being more angry and defensive about this then he needs to be but I also do think this article had a slight reek of excessive social justic…ing and like the article still mentions, you’re making a big thing about something that may not even be in the final version of the game. Whats more i do really have to question why you wouldn’t want to make this article more of a open discussion about with the dev. Why even refuse that the dev has editorial say unless you planned to misrepresent or misquote them?

    Anyway, i’m sure these things are easily moddable and in fact now that it’s been brought to the forefront i’d think it’s probably gonna take half a second before a mod is released that addresses this very issue (it’s probably out as i write this).

    I have to say though that for the sake of avoiding those type of situations I’d have, if I’d been the dev, just put the same values for men and women. Is it an accurate representation of reality? Possibly not. But it sure would save you that type of bother.

    I have to say I like many others have faced the annoyance of a colonist who keeps on hitting on a gay woman and keeps getting those mood penalties. It’s not been too much of an issue though because my colony has pretty much been a matriarchy from the get go. right now its 13 females, 3 males and that’s as much males as i ever got in my colony. This unbalancing didn’t start deliberately but when i noticed how less problematic it was to have more women than men in my colony, i kept it going.

    • Scelous says:

      And for that reason, I both commend and respect Tynan. The easier path is to conform to political correctness in order to stave off the social justicing. The more difficult path is to try to model the very real differences between men and women (the average man being stronger than the average woman, as an example). I still remember Arcanum and how I was very impressed that they actually had a difference between genders. You’re right that it would be easier, but it would also be less interesting, in my opinion.

    • Owais says:

      Isn’t refusal to cede editorial control pretty much SOP for journalists? I’ve never associated it with an intent to misrepresent or misquote subjects (although that’s certainly a possibility), but rather the bare minimum needed to ensure journalists don’t simply become mouthpieces for companies or individuals. Then again, I don’t work in the journalism industry, so maybe RPS’ refusal is unusual.

  27. Laurentius says:

    Now this is something. I mean if every big AAA title would that kind of dissection, it would be close to fine.

    Once again RPS (as most gaming press) picks a small target. Why there is no dissection of Battlfield1 (really unpleasnt monetization of of real human tragedy)? You stoped doing that becaus EA, Bethesda, Activision or Blizzard never anwser your questions, you are being ignored so you stoped even reporting their transgressions. This is an opaq world, I don’t even…

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      “really unpleasnt monetization of of real human tragedy”

      Haha! If RPS wrote an article decrying the inherent nastiness of war games, you would be crying even harder.

      • Premium User Badge

        modzero says:

        I’m pretty sure the weirdness of games about war was touched upon several times in the past. It’s a bit tricky to google for, but pointing out that games are weirdly obsessed with shooting each other in the face was a running joke for a while.

      • MrUnimport says:

        What about this particular user suggests to you that he would be deeply offended by that assertion, when he has indicated otherwise? Could you perhaps be falling victim to the urge to lump all people with whom you have disagreements together into a single ‘opposition’?

        • gwop_the_derailer says:

          Dear old Laurentius, just two months back, was accusing RPS of being too critical of video game violence.

          link to rockpapershotgun.com

          He’s a two bit hack who will take up whatever views necessary to be confrontational.

          • Laurentius says:

            I was not, you schmuck. If you want to plough through my past comments at least read them. I was surprised that Dishonored2’s visceral violence is greeted in such celebratory manner. And my criticism is that RPS stance is really inconsequential on so many things, and there is no explanation why violence in games is problematic, why in Dishonored2 is awesome. This article is of the same inconsequential nature, why indie game like Rimworld get dissected and so many games by big studies are not.

          • gwop_the_derailer says:

            So to reiterate, you accuse RPS of not criticizing video game violence here, while two months back you accused them of being too sensitive to violence but giving Dishonored a free pass… even though when RPS did have a conversation on video game violence, it centered around Dishonored – which, by the way, featured a Dishonored dev giving his side of the story without throwing a tantrum (give it a read, Ty!).

            You are simultaneously disingenuous and incompetent on multiple levels.

          • Laurentius says:

            @gwop_the_derailer

            For the record, you sifted through probably 200 comments at the time to respond to mine in confrotional tone and you took time to look up my other comment to prove that my comments are insincere (based on dishonest assumption on your part and nothing more) and you are calling me some confrotional hack. As for the rest, my opinions are my own, so if you have spare time on your hands, you can go through all my comments history (all the way back to 2009/2010) and see how I supposedly align them to stir contoversy, which is simply abusrd.

  28. LosbterBox says:

    What kind of huge baby expects anyone to give them editorial control over interviews?

    • LimEJET says:

      Probably the kind that sees they’re being brought up in a discussion about a very contentious issue and doesn’t want to be misquoted.

      • ryth says:

        ITT: People who don’t understand journalism’s ethics and standards. Having editorial control does not grant one the right to mis-quote.

        • RichUncleSkeleton says:

          No one said it did, but why should a potential interviewee assume that RPS, or any media outlet, will strictly conform to journalistic “ethics and standards”?

          • pepperfez says:

            Why should they not? Is RPS known for their deceptively edited interviews?

        • LimEJET says:

          Right? No. But a quote can still be edited, even accidentally, so that its tone changes completely.

        • Misha says:

          I owe you, man. You just used the words “journalism” and “ethics” in the same sentence. I may never stop laughing again! :-D

          • Niko says:

            I’ve got something even better for you. Try putting “YouTuber” and “ethics” in the same sentence.

    • RichUncleSkeleton says:

      Actually, all he insisted on was that his interview responses would not be edited. I’d say he made the right call considering the tone of this article. Graham’s excuse for not accepting such a modest stipulation–that sometimes interviews produce libelous or unpublishable content–is laughable because obviously if one of his responses did contain something to that effect, they could surely come to some mutually agreeable way of dealing with it and then print the rest of the interview as fully as possible, or, at worst, simply decline to publish it at all.

      • gwop_the_derailer says:

        Graham made the right call for both RPS and Ty, considering even the developer is regretting his outburst in the comments above.

        • RichUncleSkeleton says:

          For RPS? Maybe. Missing out on one interview is not going to hurt much, and Graham can do his little song and dance about the inviolableness of site editorial policy without having the potential headache of an interviewee gainsaying a guest columnist in her own piece.

          • gwop_the_derailer says:

            Putting up Ty’s emotional outburst would have been pure click bait.

    • SaintAn says:

      Someone that has paid any attention to blogs for the last 5 years. Bloggers like to spin things to get those war clicks or because they have an agenda. Can’t trust them not to. You see what Kotaku did with Dragon’s Crown because they were bored? These bloggers are absolutely rotten. I guess RPS is looking for money to overhaul the site since it’s in a pretty bad shape.

      • klops says:

        I’m pretty sure your guess is wrong.

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          I think they got their information on how blogs operate from God’s Not Dead.

      • Niko says:

        And you don’t have an agenda? “These bloggers are absolutely rotten” are pretty loaded words.

  29. NickAragua says:

    Is nobody going to point out that the code is multiplying a number by 1 (hope the compiler gets that one!) and contains a whole bunch of hard-coded magic numbers? Come on man, put that stuff into XML or something so you don’t have to recompile your code every time you want to tweak your odds of lesbians or whatever.

    The rest of the discussion is kind of a waste of time, in my opinion. Is it really that important that boning behavior between pixel dudes in a sandbox builder game accurately reflect real life? I’m not a player nor a potential customer (I don’t really like sandbox builder games), but it seems like that’s a very small part of the game. It’s like complaining that Halo doesn’t adequately model social discrimination faced by Grunts in Covenant society.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      The societal model of the Covenant is not a component of Halo’s gameplay, so that’s a weird comparison…

      • NickAragua says:

        Not directly. Still, those grunts are always getting pushed around and shoved in front. And then, when the leader gets killed, they tend to run away. And what about those suicide guys? How do the fuel rod guys gain the privilege of wielding fuel rod cannons? So many exciting ‘behind-the-scenes’ mechanisms to be discovered. I, for one, feel that the ratio of fuel rod wielding grunts does not reflect realistic heavy weapon distribution through the armed forces of a race more or less enslaved by a coalition of religious zealots.

  30. SaintAn says:

    I honestly don’t care. The female characters traits are varied and they can be whatever. It’s not like only men can be hunters and fighters and women cooks and cleaners. It’s a minor thing like romance, and they already made sure the big deal LGB is included.

  31. brimborium says:

    I do believe this article is a click bait, at least subjectively, since it baited me. It has all the right ingredients to be an attractive click-bait: Actuality (well somewhat), controversy, a bit of absurdity and scurrility, not really aggressive statements but (as Kodiak343 pointed out) indirect and passive aggressive provocation.

    I don’t believe this story really serves the cause (be it “feminism”). The obsession over rather subtle aspects of a game which focuses on completely different topics makes the delivered arguments implausible and, in the eyes of any critic, weakening the whole idea behind the statements. Thus, the whole message rather doesn’t seem constructive and to help the cause, either do many related articles.

    The article rather (willingly or unwillingly) does a good job in promoting the game (“so so so scandalous”) for anyone who is put off by such stories and comments of users who probably have never heard of the game before but, all the same, are going to “uninstall it”, “remove it from there wishlist”, etc.

    In the end, well, that’s the end of it, so I can now go on and do other things. (And props at robotslave for the diplomatic devil’s advocating contribution)

    • Niko says:

      You are baited by the word “gender” in articles about games?

    • pepperfez says:

      You’ve identified the wrong cause; the cause for which the article is working is “thoughtful writing about video games.”

    • PancakeWizard says:

      There’s some kind of weird split personality thing going on with RPS as they posted this article after weeks of praise for this game.

      Either the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or there’s something rather disingenuous about this kind of political flag waving in polar opposition to the site’s previous love for the game. The latter would be this the very definition of click bait.

  32. koriflux says:

    I find it funny that this game has murder, kidnapping, slavery, drugs and human euthinasia and the thing that forces people to not play is “hardcoded stereotypes”. I play and love the game, but seriously, why get festered by something that only limits the game in a minimal manner? This is just an acute observation of these horrid comments and, honestly, RimWorld isn’t meant for people who get offended easily. I look at these comments with people saying they issued refunds, it doesn’t make sense. You played a game with enslavement, forced imprisonment, and a community so sadistic a serial killer has nothing on them, and yet you still played the game, knowing there is room to be offended…?

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      We have finally moved on from the digital age. We have now moved into the social justice bandwagon age.

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      Cute little narcotics producing, organ harvesting, cannibal war criminal sims.
      The only thing missing from their potential Rap sheet is rape – the worst crime possible in media.

    • SaintAn says:

      Well here in America people are all for Trump saying he’s going to kick the non-white Christians over his wall and out of the country, and go to war with powerful non-white countries, but a quote of him having men-talk with another guy about women made them switch to Hillary’s side. Even South Park mocked people for that. Most people are just stupid.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        I am a man, and over the course of my life I have been engaged in my share of ‘men-talk’, particularly while working at a grog shop, for some reason.

        (It was an odd role in a few ways, attached to a supermarket, but with different standards of speech etc – everyone expects the grog shop guy to be a bit more informal).

        In that time, the amount of ‘men-talk’ that veered towards Trump’s “yeah I just walk up and grab ’em” style was very slim, maybe 1 in 100? I haven’t heard such talk among my actual male friends since I was about 14 or 15, at which time it was mostly bluster to cover for lack of experience/bravery.

        Anywho, not American so don’t get to vote on the issue, and not sure why I felt compelled to comment anyway on such an issue on a gaming site, but there you are.

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      Yours is a sensible, reasoned post and yet it has received virtually no replies. I wonder why?

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Possibly because it’s a ridiculous strawman? It addresses some amorphous bunch of commenters but no one actually identifies with the position he criticises, so why reply to him?

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I’ll also point out another thing that’s befuddling me: people are saying that because the game happens in the year 5500 or around that, that we’d expect to have evolved our gender norms further to the point of equality (or even behavior reversal).

      Do these people actually know RimWorld? A game where most of your people are gonna be coming from primitive tribes, gigantic hive worlds, underdeveloped medieval cesspits, highly codified militaristic worlds, and so on? So-called Glitterworlds make a fraction of the people you’ll meet in the game, and there’s a good chance they’ll only have passed some limited amount of time in one.

      I definitely think there’d be a nice opening for actually tying gender norms with origins (e.g. Glitterworlders could have the “ideal” of everyone being equal, whereas hive worlds could have very strong gender roles harking back from ancient times, and others anywhere in between), but that’s a far more complex system than what’s been designed, and I can understand why Ty would just want something simple that more or less works as you’d expect.

      • Regicider 12.4% says:

        That sounds like some great ideas.
        Characters are already built from their backstories and adding some differences in social value variables between medieval farm worlds, toxic industrial urbworlds, glitterworlds and the respective beliefs, class and living standards from those societies would be more interesting than just hardcoded constants.

  33. Matter says:

    To me it’s a bit silly to criticize one of the few games that actually has gender roles beyond just the straight male and female ones most other games have because the statistics it assumes don’t match the very unclear and inconsistent statistics in modern society. It also ensures that no other devs will touch gender roles because why should they bother dealing with this kind of stuff?

    It also follows the very sad pattern in modern journalism where they never say that something is bad, just “question” it, or “bring it to our attention”. Claiming that RPS never attacked the dev or said anything directly bad about the game, while discussing only this game, which is widely known to be worked on by 1 main person, is disingenuous.

    My recommendation to Ty – strip out anything that isn’t straight male/female and revert back to the norm for every other game out there. (I’m being slightly sarcastic, but not really.) People don’t seem to have a problem with that, even though that’s even more wrong…

    • Niko says:

      Except the game takes place in the future, but in its approach it’s closer to DF in space.

      • Matter says:

        I never played DF, nor is it mentioned in the article, so… good? Sorry, I don’t get what point you’re making here relative to my comment. I think you’re actually agreeing with me that this game is far in the future and comparing to modern norms is a huge assumption in itself.

        • pepperfez says:

          Exactly the point of this essay is that Rimworld treats as immutable certain highly contingent, dubiously factual features of 20th-/21st-century gender relations. That’s weird, given that (1)those features are not necessarily even real and (2)you can eat people in this game.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Why does being set in a (possible) future mean it has to be done a specific way?

  34. Synesthesia says:

    First off, what a wonderful article. Congratulations. It’s a wonderful insight on ingrained sexism, and how it can affect creative work.

    I can see why the coder believes it’s an attack on the game, but I think the bigger picture the article is aiming for is visible.

    • ryth says:

      hear hear! So many people missing the forest for the trees.

    • Premium User Badge

      DantronLesotho says:

      Agreed, and I appreciate that Tynan cited his reasons rather than strictly relying on his anecdotal evidence. This was a great piece.

  35. k47 says:

    I like what the article exposes, I think it would make a good article for discussion, if it wasn’t because it deliberately didn’t want the Dev’s actual viewpoint on it.

    Dev: “When I said I’d be willing to answer questions, but not if the responses were edited, she went silent.”
    RPS Article: “He declined to take part unless we ceded editorial control over the publishing of that interview.”

    Dev (before the article): “So you’re analyzing a broken system. Also, this system is just something slammed together to get the game working in a basic way. It’s just barely functional enough to fill its role.”
    RPS Article: “On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work. In other words, there might not be any specific commentary on or interpretation of gender roles behind this, malicious or otherwise.”

    I fully agree with the dev that this sounds like “He might not be beating his wife”, when you know the actual answer to it because he gave it to you.

    ———

    And I say that while I actually disagree on the Dev’s viewpoint (based on his comment above) on gender and sexuality, specially on the “bisexual men end up being gay”. I think that’s ridiculous.

    But hey, while angry on his reply to this article (I would be too), he seems open to discussion on the actual subject, which this article didn’t really allow him.

    • Niko says:

      The system might be broken, but the numbers in it aren’t random – even the author elaborates where he got them from.

  36. RichUncleSkeleton says:


    But the problem with this model isn’t that it’s flawed. It’s that it’s flawed in a way that perfectly mirrors existing sexist expectations of romance, with such specificity that it is hard to view it as unintentional .

    Put another way, RimWorld’s model of romance tracks pretty closely with how most people experience dating. So really, you’re hitting the game’s designer for not conforming his artistic vision to your idealized view of what human sexuality should be. That’s a funny definition of “flawed”.

    • Monggerel says:

      Actually, the claim is that the dev is an anti-liberal agitator. The article basically say you should go and bombard them with hate mail for being a nazi.

      • pepperfez says:

        Are you kidding me here.

        • LuciusAnnaeus says:

          sadly he probably isnt – the amount of comments I ve seen where people are simultaneously complaining about being “persecuted” for their opinions and wishing cancer/death on the people they dont agree with is scary to me – too many people these days seem to think that death threats and other harassment are the only and most reasonable way to engage in discussion with people you politically disagree with

    • Faxanadu says:

      This is what I tried to put in words but failed. Thank you. This is exactly my biggest issue with this article.

    • April March says:

      Notice that, when you say “most people”, you mean “most people I know”. (And, possibly, “most people I see on media”, which might be a very similar subset.) It most certainly does not match with the vast majority of people I know.

  37. njursten says:

    Wow, really serious effort investigating the code! Nice article.

  38. Kurshuk says:

    Pretty disappointed in the article.

    Feels like it takes aim at a small developer attempting to model something complex.

    I get that gender roles and social issues are a big deal. But this article doesn’t really explore sexuality in gaming, just this game(and this game is a survival sim, not a romance sim). And it doesn’t indicate what values for sexuality would have prevented the smear piece. I really want to know how this would have had to been made to prevent people from being offended.

    I think symmetry is what people are looking for, but symmetrical values feel so pandering and cheap. So what values? For the equations above, what do you change to get the sexism out?

    K

    PS: Why is RPS attacking a small dev? This is mostly a single person project isn’t it?

    • Michael Anson says:

      Dwarf Fortress avoids those same issues, and is a one-person project.

      • pepperfez says:

        But don’t you find yourself terribly distracted by the unbelievability of lady-dwarfs approaching gentleman-dwarfs uninvited?

      • robotslave says:

        For its first 8 years, Dwarf Fortress had no representation of homosexuality or bisexuality; all creatures were heterosexual, and all marriages were between a male and a female.

        And Dwarf Fortress is a two person project :)

        • Michael Anson says:

          No, but it WAS on the feature list for that period of time. Intent is important.

    • pepperfez says:

      CRITICISM IS NOT AN ATTACK.

      • LuciusAnnaeus says:

        what pepper said – everyone who is extremely outraged at this article should print that out and hang it on above their monitor …

  39. oldtaku says:

    The question is do you think RimWorld should be simulating an idealized Star Trek future where everyone is gender, disability, race, age, etc. blind and we like people only for their personality, or should it be simulating the more likely future where everyone is still ruled by their monkeybrains?

    If you’re not going for deep relationship models, this is sadly mostly correct, with a few tweaks:
    – No bi men? Yeah, that’s wrong.
    – Age preference normal curve should have some offset from actual age. Some people skew higher, some people skew lower (even dangerously), either gender.
    – Needs a wealth modifier.
    – Each rebuff would wear the person down till they settled for something far less than their ideal. Rob x Boots y’all.

  40. Chillicothe says:

    “…and that’s why the binary treatment of social issues is dangerous for everyone not extremist in behavior and should be more understanding.”

  41. OctoVine says:

    Interesting article.

    I wonder why the dev made these decisions. Even if you think that bisexual men don’t exist, which I guess you might believe based on your own anecdotal life or whatever, why bake it into the game? How does that choice improve the game?

    To me it seems like a much more interesting simulation if bisexual men exist. Hell, it’s the wacky future, why not add in some invented but interesting social dynamics that are truly imaginary to make it even more interesting?

    • April March says:

      You can see the dev’s answer right above. And it isn’t a great mystery – if you believe this is how the world works, then programming the game to work the same way makes it more realistic, and more dramatic, which makes for more memorable stories.

  42. BTA says:

    This article is fantastic and I’d love to see more like it. Ignorance can so easily be instilled in a game’s design, and diving in like this really shows how badly that can end up.

  43. Daniel Klein says:

    Preface: I think Rimworld is a great game, design and system wise. It’s the closest we’ve come to “Dwarf Fortress, but without the ridiculous cliff of a learning curve”. I think that’s great, I bought it in early access, and I’ve had fun with it.

    Tynan Sylvester had an interview published on Breitbart: link to breitbart.com

    In his tweet about the interview (link to twitter.com) multiple people, including myself, pointed out to him that Breitbart is a right-wing hate site (I’ve got personal history; they published a hit piece on myself and my partner, so I’m super biased.). Tynan basically sees not problem with being associated with Breitbart.

    I’m posting this here as a data point. I don’t think this is oversight or a bug. I think this system is working exactly as designed.

    • Monggerel says:

      So… this is RPS “covertly” announcing that the dev is a nazi and the game shouldn’t be supported?

      • Daniel Klein says:

        I don’t know where you’re getting that from. Breitbart is problematic, and the alt-right that associates with it holds similar opinions to what the author of this game is expressing both through his system and his comments in here. I offer these as a data point to interpretation particularly of intentionality behind this system. I never called for anyone to not support the game; I pointed out it’s a good game, and that I had fun playing it (I moved on for completely unrelated reasons). Yes, I personally choose not to support or associate going forward with someone who lives in these circles, but I’m not making any recommendations what anyone else should do.

        • Monggerel says:

          I wasn’t really reacting to your comment so much as trying to draw conclusions as to why this article was posted on RPS (I got it now, I think) and I guess I inadvertently revealed that I’m not quite the sparkly-clean liberal in doing so. Sorry about that, didn’t mean to be openly challenging. It’s just that I don’t quite have the social grace of… women, I guess? Red Bull in a china shop and all that.

          • pepperfez says:

            Your best guess for how an article about the behavior of a PC game ended up on a website about PC games is that it’s somehow obliquely calling for a boycott? Seriously, are there no more plausible explanations?

    • El_Emmental says:

      While Breitbart is indeed a quite nauseous news website, Tynan Sylvester also did an Ask-Me-Anything on Kotaku ( link to kotaku.com ), and never seemed to show a particular preference for a political side.

      It looks like (in my opinion) that the developer is either not really aware of the gaming media landscape, or has a “neutral” stance when it comes to politics (thus why he didn’t openly denounced Breitbart on Twitter), so interviews/promotions of the game will land on the leftish and rightish outlets so that everyone can learn about RimWorld.

      On one hand I understand it’s a little disturbing to see RimWorld on such a website, on the other hand a developer can’t really refuse to serve people because of their political leaning. To run a business you need customers, if you only accept the small percentage of people who meet all your criteria, profitability is practically impossible.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Breitbart is a right wing hate site in the same way that Polygon is a left wing hate site. It’s only a problem if you consider having an interview from a tech/gaming publication something you should be politically invested in. Most people don’t, and Tynan has no reason to dismiss a media outlet as long as it treats him fairly.

      It might surprise you to learn, for instance, that the Daily Express (right wing, UK) has miles better gaming news coverage than The Guardian (‘progressive’, UK), but if you’re politically invested in your specific flag-adorned hillock, you’d never know that.

      The only thing I find nauseous here, is your attempt to bully someone into siding with your own views in a public forum and subsequently discredit them playground-style for rightly ignoring you.

      You’re Riot Games, right? Noted.

      • Person of Interest says:

        Why do you bring up his employer? Nowhere does he give the impression that he speaks on their behalf. Is it because you hope Riot might retaliate against him for speaking in a public forum? That’s a new low, even for this 600+ comment thread.

        Why don’t you stick to engaging with the article and comments, like everyone else here?

  44. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Great comments on this. An interesting article and responses. It’s obviously hard for the developer to separate out a critique of how gender relationships are presented in Rimworld from a personal attack. Probably a natural, if somewhat over the top, reaction to someone “attacking your baby”.

    It’s fine that RPS and the dev disagree on editorial/quoting stance, but along with Rimworld’s popularity will come more scrutiny – just as with any successful commercial or artistic creation. So he’ll need to get used to informed criticism that he doesn’t agree with and how to respond with less instant indignation.

    I’ll continue to follow/play the game and hope the dev puts in less stereotypical – and frankly just 1950’s dull – relationship modelling in the game as he continues to develop it.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    Just wanted to chime in that this sort of dive into the sociological assumptions and models underlying a game is extremely interesting (even if the particulars in this case make me hang my head in my hands) and something I would love to see more of on here if at all possible.

  46. klops says:

    I’d pretty much agree with the summary, although now I’m most likely considered a shallow misogynist, homophobic cis-asshole by the offended people:

    -Men take more initiative, like they do with all (?) mammals and most (all?) other animals. Biology matters also, even in the future. It does. Yes, it does.
    -People with disabilities are less attractive. If I’m missing an arm most people would find me more attractive with the arm. It does not mean people with disablities can’t be attractive.
    -Beautiful is considered more attractive. OH REALLY? “Oh, but it’s not always like that in real life.” In a Rimworld type game, I’d say that is already very detailed attempt even the personality traits are completely missed. Well, personalities are something I’d put more emphasis on but again, is it a reason to be upset?
    -Straight/bi/gay ratio was off in my mind and I don’t agree with it. Still, I don’t find myself apologist when I think the devs answer to this (“study/in my experience”) was ok and don’t see why that ratio would be hard coded in the game (unless it was clearly said so).
    -Men find younger women attractive and women like men that are older?! I’ve never heard of this, no no no!! Never! And if I have, it must be changed because it is the future and in the future ecerything must be like I want. Check some dating site profiles, and see how the age preferences usually go. And yes, I’ve seen how older women like younger men and vice versa, but in general, which kind of couples are more common?

    Of course, there’s a good point in summary when it notes how “all men do this / all women do this”, which of course isn’t the case in real life. But were the examples really that wrong?

    Disclaimer: I have never played Rimworld so I haven’t noticed or thought about this (most likely I wouldn’t have noticed those things since I’m quite bad at it even when it matters [and clearly, it does not in this case in my mind]), but I enjoyed Brendan’s let’s plays.

    • Haxton Fale says:

      The main problem I see here is that there are harsh cutoffs (if older than X then 0% chance of romance) as opposed to formulas that decrease chances by smaller values and still allow for “anomalies.”

      That, and the fact that there are no bi men or straight women.

  47. SwissLion says:

    Before anything else, thanks Claudia for this great article. Informative, honestly pretty brave, and with a really interesting format that I think we should see more of. Demystifying code I think could go a long way toward breaking down a lot of the harmful assumptions and assertions that are bandied around about games.

    And now, yeah, the stuff. Gotta say, any benefit of the doubt goes out the window for me when someone is completely erasing my experience as a human being.

    I like to be able to some extent remove my opinions of creators from how I judge works. You sort of have to if you ever dive even into the shallow end of most pre-21st century art movements.

    But if a dev is willing to point to some obviously flawed and incredibly basic stats to reinforce his regressive views of sexuality enough to appease the average person, but not even go to that effort when justifying my deletion as a bisexual man from his fantasy future world, that’s a bit too direct to ignore, for me.

    If he doesn’t think I exist, he probably won’t miss my money very much.

    • 13thLetter says:

      There’s absolutely nothing “brave” about taking the standard default political position required by the gaming media, and attacking some poor random developer for not living up to their vision of gender roles. Rather, it’s about as safe as you can get.

      • mrbeman says:

        This is honestly your position after years of GG insanity, including swatting, death and rape threats sent to personal addresses, doxing, relentless avalanches of threats and abuse burying personal email and twitter accounts, the fact that every single article touching on representation gets angry comments decrying “SJWs”, ad infinitum?

        Seriously?

        Also, a dry technical examination of a game’s source code raises your ire about “default political position” without even a second’s thought about the “default political position” explicit in that source code is?

        Have you spent a second of your life engaged in even the slightest, most fleeting reflective thought?

        • simplegreen says:

          GP is correct. There is nothing remotely brave about this article. In fact, going out of your way to misrepresent someone’s creation to create offense, and then accusing them of attempting to hijack editorial control just because they wanted their quotes to be unedited and contextualized, is quite lazy and cowardly. I hope Claudia learns to do better in the future, or if not, that RPS finds better authors.

          • sairas says:

            Your misrepresenting of Claudia Lo’s creation to create offense is quite lazy and cowardly. There is nothing brave about going out of your way to misinterpret this article.

            And no serious editor would ever agree to give up its editorial integrity and agree to publish “unedited” quotes like this. I don’t know how the communication went, but I guess it’s possible the dev got to read the article before it was published (totally standard), but didn’t think it represented him as he would have liked and thus the quotes went out. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to serve him better to be represented unedited in his first comment here (the thread on reddit that he later linked to seem to be a step in the right direction though).

          • simplegreen says:

            Well, word-flipping can be a fun exercise, but in this case it’s not such a good rhetorical device because this article is garbage and I am completely correct for describing it as such. Also, I thought the author did a great job of explaining why he made the choices that he did, and I went out and bought his game because of it. Still, this was a hatchet job. It’s not spelled out for you in big, red letters, so it’s maybe too subtle for RPS readers to pick up on… but it’s a hatchet job and a clear example of why:

            1) Developers do not trust game journalists,

            2) Critical readers do not take game journalists seriously,

            3) Any attempt to depict race or gender or sexuality in any context will be deemed “problematic” and “gross” and be criticized for whatever made-up reasons the outrage machine will come up with next, despite the fact that the media will also demonize creators for not depicting race, gender or sexuality.

    • Thoric says:

      Demystifying code for the purpose of political hit piece articles will just incentivize developers to obfuscate their code, especially the parts relating to touchy subjects, at the cost of modding capability.

      There’s already a myriad of reasons to not make your games very moddable, and whether RPS wanted to or not, they just added another. Negative customer reviews citing this article have already started pouring in.

  48. sharkh20 says:

    Your artistic vision must adhere to my political beliefs.

    • Random_Tangent says:

      The existence of bisexual men and heterosexual women is a political belief?

      • trashbarge says:

        tbf i’ve got a few bi exes i’d love to believe never existed

      • Faxanadu says:

        No, but that men don’t hit on women more and disabled people are equally attractive, is.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s obviously political to deny such True Sciencefacts as “Every woman is bisexual” and “Disability is essentially unattractive.” If we can’t agree on obvious stuff like that, how can a free society survive?

    • mrbeman says:

      It is never ok to question assumptions or critique art, especially if such questioning makes me uncomfortable.

      Who was it that needed a safe space again?

    • pepperfez says:

      Yeah, it is pretty weird how upset people are that a review challenged their political convictions. You’d think they’d have more important things to aim their outrage at, but I guess that’s just the current state of the politically-correct right.

  49. Deviija says:

    Wow, this is far more fascinating and interesting than I thought it might be at first glance. Kudos for digging around and taking a look under the hood and raising some very worthwhile questions and examinations based on said code and what it could mean for the game/gameworld. I like this.

    I do hope there is more work in store for relationships and variety within them, it’d be a shame if this is the end-all, imo. And I say that as someone that does play and enjoy RimWorld.

    • pepperfez says:

      Agreed. Looking at the wider implications of little details of code is one of my favorite genres of games criticism. It’s a shame the developer can’t stomach a dialogue here, because it might be fun to see how some other models actually work in practice.

    • Traipse says:

      Agreed! The way that games reflect culture is a fascinating area of study, and I’m glad that RPS is digging into it. More articles in this vein, please! I just wish that more people could say “Well, I disagree with that” without feeling personally threatened.

      I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed by the developer’s response. Critiquing the cultural biases of a game is a legitimate and interesting thing to do. Given that it made no personal attacks on the developer, it’s hard to see how this could constitute a “hit piece”. There’s a world of difference between criticism and persecution, and this seems to fall solidly on the “criticism” side.

      Honestly, the best response would have just been a short statement: “Yes, the relationship stuff is wonky. Remember, it’s still just an alpha, so I plan to fix it up later. I take user feedback into account; thanks for the input.” Then one looks like a hardworking, thoughtful developer whom people are willing to cut slack. But posting long, defensive responses about how RPS is being journalistically irresponsible just makes one look… kind of sad. Seems like it was the worst way to handle this situation.

  50. Premium User Badge

    Cvnk says:

    This is not what I expected when I read “strict gender roles”. “Non-symmetrical gender roles” seems more fitting and based on other posts in these here comments (I haven’t played this game yet but I still intend to) it sounds like this lack of symmetry is limited to romance and sexuality. Seems worthwhile to discuss and possible adjust but hardly worth burning the developer at the stake (not accusing the article of doing that — just many of the comments).

    • LuciusAnnaeus says:

      I wish more of the conversation was like this, sigh – ppl just tend to immediately retreat behind their “culture war” barricades – I guess I m just getting to old for this s***